Changing Course

Capps Accuses Bush of ‘Taking Incompetence to New Heights’

by Nick Welsh

Lois_Capps.jpgNow that her party controls Congress,
Representative Lois Capps wasted little time shedding her
reputation as a rhetorical wallflower during last week’s lengthy
congressional debate on a nonbinding resolution opposing an
increase in the number of troops deployed to Iraq. Each House
member was allotted five minutes to speak for or against the
resolution; during her time slot, Capps denounced the Bush
administration for deceit and ineptitude in its conduct of the war,
and opposed the president’s initiative to send 21,000 new troops to
Iraq. She argued instead, “It is time, Madame Speaker, to stop the
war in Iraq. Support the troops, indeed. Bring them home.” Bush has
argued that the additional troops are necessary to stem the
escalating violence in Iraq, and that once that occurs, the United
States will be in a better position to transfer greater authority
and responsibility for the conduct of the war to the Iraqi

Throughout her congressional tenure, Capps, a Democrat, has
served as a member of the minority party in a time defined by the
intensity of partisan rancor. But with last November’s election,
Democrats regained control of both the Senate and the House, and
Capps took rare advantage of the newfound opportunity to speak her
mind. “This administration has taken arrogance, stubbornness, and
incompetence to new heights. It ignored the advice of its military
experts leading up to and throughout this war,” she said. “It
stocked reconstruction teams with political hacks and brushed off
the indisputable reality of a meltdown in Iraq. It dismissed the
considered opinion of the Iraq Study Group, Congress, and most
importantly, the American people. Make no mistake, the failure of
the Iraq war lies at the highest levels of the White House and at
the desks of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. And the cost of
that failure is borne by our troops and their families and by the
Iraqi people.”

Capps was one of the few members of Congress to vote against
authorizing the war with Iraq four years ago, and she recalled that
vote as “one of my proudest moments in Congress.” She lamented that
all her misgivings at the time have since been borne out: that
there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 or Al Qaeda, and
no weapons of mass destruction. “Today Iraq is in civil war, the
Middle East is even more unsettled, and our standing in the world
is at a low point,” she stated. “As a nation, we are even less
secure today than the day we invaded Iraq.” Throwing more men and
women into battle, she said, would solve nothing. “It is a plan
based more on hope than fact, buttressed by hysterical rhetoric.”
The resolution states that Congress affirms its support for the
troops, but opposes the plan to send more soldiers in harm’s way.
Capps said the 3,000 killed and 20,000 wounded deserved
“responsible leadership” for their sacrifice, not just “flowery
words,” adding, “And that is where our soldiers were let down.”

The outcome of this week’s vote has never been in doubt, but the
number of Republicans who would jump the aisle to vote for the
Democratic-sponsored bill has been a looming question. As of press
time, it remained uncertain exactly what role Elton Gallegly — the
Republican Congressmember who represents much of inland Santa
Barbara County — would play in the debate, which is scheduled to
end on Friday, February 16. But thus far, Gallegly has staunchly
supported Bush’s policies. Many Republicans have insisted that
resolutions like this serve only to undermine the morale of the
troops stationed in Iraq already, and have dismissed it as a
gutless, empty gesture. Some Republicans have actually taunted the
Democrats, challenging them to do something more meaningful, such
as denying Bush the funds needed to deploy the additional

Democrats insist the vote is more than political posturing,
arguing that it’s the first opportunity for them to weigh in on the
matter. In addition, they claim they’ll have a chance to wield the
power of the purse once Bush finally submits a supplemental budget
request to cover the cost for his proposed “troop surge.” As for
Capps, she has already voted to deny Bush supplemental funding for
the Iraq war on several occasions, most recently last March.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.