CM: The word is coming from the White House and the Pentagon that the President intends to send 20,000 more GIs to Baghdad. Will the Democrats stop him?So Hoyer is skeptical of the "so-called surge," but even though the Iraq war is "probably the most unsuccessful implementation of a foreign policy in my lifetime, perhaps in history" and even though he says the President has not to date in this war put forward a reasonable plan that could accomplish its objectives, he's not willing to even venture a guess as to what the Democrats might do if Bush gives them more of the same. Murtha's and Skelton's committees will look at it, he'll talk to them, and we'll see what happens from there, he says.
SH: Well, first of all we need to find out specifically what he wants to do with those troops. Almost every policy that they've pursued has not worked. I'm very skeptical personally of this so-called surge, as to whether or not it'll accomplish the objectives, and I'm not sure what the specific objectives are. So Chris, we're going to have that fleshed out a little bit, but I can tell you that Ike Skelton of the Armed Services Committee, Jack Murtha of the Appropraitaions Committee, are going to look very, very carefully at this proposal, and I'm going to want to talk to them about what their thoughts are.
CM: Can the Congress stop this surge if it wants to, if it decides to after deliberation?
SH: Well, I think possibly we could, at least we could vote on it. Whether we could we stop it, probably not, because it would have to be by statute, and the President obviously could veto that statute, and it's doubtful whether we could override a veto of that kind of a policy.
CM: Does the President need authorization to increase the complement of troops by 20,000?
SH: Yes, he does that, but he could get the 20,000 troops I think without that, he needs that, as a matter of fact many Democrats including myself have proposed an increase in our troop levels, we need that, we're using troops at such a rate that the present number does not suffice.
CM: What will it look like if the Democrats who were elected for change, and for a change in policy in Iraq, if the President looks you guys and you women in the eye and says 'not only am I not changing the policy, I'm not redeploying, I'm escalating,' and he gets away with it, won't that make your party look impotent?
SH: I don't think so, certainly in the short run. If we don't do something in the long run, yes. But again, Chris, we're going to be sworn in tomorrow, we're going to do our hundred hours, our six in '06, which we've said. Iraq has been a very complicated and unsuccessful, probably the most unsuccessful implementation of a foreign policy in my lifetime, perhaps in history. We're going to have to look at that, oversight hearings start next week by both Mr. Skelton and Mr. Murtha. So we're going to have to see what those oversight hearings result in, and we're going to have to see specifically what the President is recommending. We said that he ought to get rid of Rumsfeld, he's gotten rid of Rumsfeld, he's got a new Secretary of Defense who says we're not winning in Iraq. He's now coming forth with a, what he calls a change in policy, we'll have to see if in fact it is a change in policy. But the American public made it very clear they think that we're not winning in Iraq, they think we need to change policy, that we need to get our troops out of harm's way.
CM: You said you're very skeptical as to what the mission might be. Suppose the mission is to go door to door in Baghdad, kicking down doors, killing Iraqi insurgents, Sunni insurgents, inflicting casualties, taking casualties, right on the front line of this war, this very much sectarian war, would you accept such a mission for the 20,000 new soldiers?
SH: Chris, I don't want to speculate on what the mission is going to be, what you're doing. But I certainly want to make sure that, and I think the Congress is going to want to make sure, every member, hopefully Republican as well as Democrats, that whatever the President suggests, we think is reasonable and is possible to accomplish its objectives. That has not happened to date in this war, and there is going to be great skepticism about the President's proposal.
This is why Hoyer drives me nuts at times, or at least a good part of it. If he didn't want to lead, why did he want to be Majority Leader?