WASHINGTON - "This is a rather toothless 97 words," [Florida Rep. Adam] Putnam began in his floor speech, calling the proposal "a narrow, nonbinding resolution that misses the bigger picture." Minutes later, he changed his view. "The majority would have us consider a resolution that puts us one day closer to handing militant Islamists a safe haven the size of California."
So which one is it: toothless or catastrophic?
"The debate should not be about the surge or its details," Republican Reps. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and John Shadegg of Arizona wrote to colleagues in a letter intercepted by Democrats.
"This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose."
To help Republicans with the task of conducting an Iraq debate without talking about Iraq, Putnam [House Republican Conference Chairman] set up a "war room" in the Longworth office building to provide research and debate material, parliamentary experts, and a "rapid response system."
Putnam, host of the war room, had only begun to fight. He called a news conference in the Capitol basement with [Majority Leader] Boehner and distributed orange juice made with fruit his family had grown in Florida.
Sipping the juice, he repeated his dueling points: (a) "This is just the first step to defunding troops in harm's way," and, (b) "This week's resolution is really just a stunt."
There you have it. By their own words, Republican leaders reveal how far they will go to avoid a substantive debate on the real issue - the war and its consequences.
While they held the majority in Congress, they refused to provide oversight to a runaway president and his disastrous war policies. Now in the minority, they continue to play the same old political game.
Enslaved to their own political and ideological interests, Republicans are incapable of serving the interests of the American people and our troops in Iraq.
Their cynical strategy of obstructionism - even as soldiers are dying - is unconscionable. We must hold them accountable.
Update, 9:04 p.m.: More of that Good Ol' Republican gamesmanship . . .
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans quickly retracted a news release Thursday that accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of violating copyrights of C-SPAN, the cable channel that televises House and Senate proceedings.
The GOP took Pelosi to task because her new blog used video of this week's Iraq war debate, but then backtracked after learning C-SPAN had no copyright for the footage.
GOP forced to retract its criticism of Pelosi
Anything to avoid the issues, boys.