Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Boehner Blames the Boots on the Ground, Not the Heel in the Pentagon

Watch House Majority Leader John Boehner tell CNN'S Wolf Blitzer that our troops are to blame for America's failure in Iraq:

House Majority Leader John Boehner's call for critics to lay off Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld because the generals are responsible for the conduct of the war in Iraq has sparked outrage among Democrats.

In an interview Wednesday on CNN, Boehner said, "Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld."

CNN's Wolf Blitzer replied, "But he's in charge of the military."

"The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said.

Here's how the Army Times is reporting Boehner's comments:

In the wake of Sen. John Kerry's belated apology for offending troops deployed in Iraq, House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is being asked by Democrats to apologize for seemingly blaming senior military officers for any problems with the Bush administration's Iraq strategy.

Boehner, however, does not appear to be budging.

"Good try," he said when asked about demands for an apology.

In a Wednesday appearance on CNN, Boehner was asked for his view on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. policy in Iraq.

"There are a lot of people who want to blame what's happening in Iraq on Donald Rumsfeld, but when you look at the transformation that our military has been through, it's nothing short of remarkable," Boehner said. "The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge."

Boehner acknowledged that "there have been mistakes along the way," but did not blame Rumsfeld.

"We're fighting an enemy that's unconventional, and this has become the central front in our war with al-Qaida," Boehner said. "Al-Qaida continues to bring people into Iraq to let off these bombs, to stir up sectarian violence and we're always having to adapt on the ground."

Rumsfeld, Boehner said, has been pushing the military to transform, but the uniformed military leaders have resisted.

"You have to understand that the generals who have been in charge of the Pentagon have been very resistant to change," Boehner said. "It's the younger generals who understand this new force structure that we need to have for the military of the 21st century.

"I think there's only one person in America who could have brought about that transformation, and that's Donald Rumsfeld," Boehner said. "He's smart, he's been through the Pentagon, knows how it works. And now we have a lighter, more flexible force, a quicker force."

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, reacting to Boehner's statement, said the House Republican leader "ought to be ashamed."

"He is blaming our troops for failures in Iraq," Reid said. "If he wants to cast blame, he can start by looking in the mirror because he and his congressional Republican colleagues have rubber-stamped the Bush administration's failed policy for nearly four years.

"Our troops in Iraq have performed bravely," Reid said. "It is political leaders like Congressman Boehner and Donald Rumsfeld who have failed."

Atrios wonders: If it's the generals who are screwing up in Iraq, why doesn't Rumsfeld tell them to do things differently? Isn't that what the Big Boss is supposed to do? Or does the buck not stop at the guy who runs the entire Defense Department?

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