The Mercury News ran some of Fortney “Pete” Stark’s comments from the House floor on the Iraq resolution, omitting his reading of the Molly Ivins column blasting the President for the sin of being an “upper class white boy”; I’m guessing Fortney was told he resembles that remark himself. Here’s what they did run, with suitable commentary:
I am deeply troubled that lives may be lost without a meaningful attempt to bring Iraq into compliance with U.N. resolutions through careful and cautious diplomacy. The bottom line is I don’t trust this president and his advisers.
We — that’s the US and the UN — have already tried 11 years of careful and cautious diplomacy, embargoes, pressure, and conversation, Fortney, and it hasn’t accomplished a thing. Repeating an act while hoping for different results, is, well, nuts. So let’s not jump to the bottom line that our President is wrong for simply enforcing the measures that should have been enforced in 1998 when Congress last authorized force against Iraq.
Make no mistake, we are voting on a resolution that grants total authority to the president who wants to invade a sovereign nation without any specific act of provocation.
You yourself say, just a little further down, that Iraq attempted to assassinate an American President. While you don’t like that President’s party affiliation, most of us take this kind of aggression as seriously as you would take an attempt on the life of your president, Martin Sheen. Iraq has also attacked, 60 times, American and British jets lawfully policing the No-Fly Zones, and that’s aggression in anybody’s book because it subverts “careful and cautious diplomacy”. Iraq pays the families of suicide bombers, encouraging the murder of innocent people in Israel, more aggression, and it’s gassed, bombed and tortured its own people, the Kurds. What more do you need, little fellow?
This would authorize the United States to act as the aggressor for the first time in our history. It sets a precedent for our nation — or any nation — to exercise brute force anywhere in the world without regard to international law or international consensus.
You need to go back to school and study some history, Congressbubba; we were the aggressor in our Revolution, in the our Civil War, in the Spanish-American War, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and even in World War II where we attacked Germany even though they didn’t attack us first. You can look it up. And our action to enforce the International Consensus embodied in the sixteen UN Resolutions Iraq has already violated isn’t chopped liver, dear one.
Congress must not walk in lockstep behind a president who has been so callous to proceed without reservation, as if war was of no real consequence.
The President perceives, rightly, that failing to act against Iraq is the option that has the most real consequences, and I doubt he cares whether you walk in lockstep or you dance a jig, as long as you do the right and honorable and intelligent thing.
Let us not forget that our president — our commander in chief — has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. He admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn’t notice “any heavy stuff going on.”
So now you’re trying to tell us that Vietnam was a just war, and the President should have been on the front lines, where you weren’t? You need to make up your mind about that.
So we have a president who thinks foreign territory is the opponent’s dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.
So now we have to automatically shut out any President who happens to love baseball? While it may not be as refined as your avocations — macrame and character assassination — it’s a fine sport and one that most Americans enjoy. And I’m willing to wager that the President hasn’t worn a cashmere sweater in his life, while your closet is no doubt full of them.
What is most unconscionable is that there is not a shred of evidence to justify the certain loss of life. Do the generalized threats and half-truths of this administration give any one of us in Congress the confidence to tell a mother or father or family that the loss of their child or loved one was in the name of a just cause?
Not a shred of evidence, well, except for the stuff the UN weapons inspectors found before they were locked out, and what the defectors told us about, and what the satellite pictures have shown, and the cell phone and fax intercepts, and the invoices, etc, etc, etc. That’s about a truckload of shreds.
Is the president’s need for revenge for the threat once posed to his father enough to justify the death of any American? I submit the answer to these questions is no.
See note above about aggression against an American President. You shouldn’t have brought this up, dim one.
The questions before the members of this House and to all Americans are immense, but there are clear answers. America is not currently confronted by a genuine, proven, imminent threat from Iraq. The call for war is wrong.
Your answers show contempt for the truth, as well as for our nation’s security.
And what greatly saddens me at this point in our history is my fear that this entire spectacle has not been planned for the well-being of the world, but for the short-term political interest of our president.
What disturbs me is that your tantrum isn’t calculated for political effect, but that you sincerely believe this stuff. For that alone, you should be hospitalized.
Now, I am also greatly disturbed that many Democratic leaders have also put political calculation ahead of the president’s accountability to truth and reason by supporting this resolution.
When the majority of Congress says the evidence supports the President, and a minority that includes KKK recruiter Bobby Byrd, Cuba lover Barbara Lee, and yourself says otherwise, I submit the majority is right.
But I conclude that the only answer is to vote no on the resolution before us.
This isn’t a conclusion, Fortney, because it doesn’t flow from the evidence — it’s more like an impetuous whim, and we don’t govern on that basis in this democracy. Sorry, but you don’t win the free pie.
Pete Stark is a Democratic congressman from Fremont
…which is a sad commentary on the voters in that part of the Frisco Bay area.
UPDATE: Cato the Youngest takes the Flying Iron Fisk to the full remarks Stark made on the floor, including the Molly Ivins (gee, does anybody take her seriously?) reference. Comments by readers point out that the US was also the aggressor in WW I, Haiti, Panama, Grenada, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya (twice) and arguably in Southeast Asia.