an honest Republican: the Iraq War was wrong

Posted on Monday 30 October 2006

I reminded Armey that he is quoted in the book I co-wrote with Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, saying he deeply regretted his vote to give President George W. Bush the authority to launch the war on Iraq. I asked:

Do you still regret that vote today and if so, if people like you, if Republicans voted the wrong way, is it not, according to the rules of the marketplace, a good thing to sort of pay a price now, at least in political terms. Should people hold your party to account for making the wrong vote?

Here’s how Armey replied:

I think it was the wrong vote. I felt it at the time….And yes, if you make a bad vote, in the final analysis, you need to expect to live with it. And to some extent that is happening now–with current officeholders. You might say, "Well, Armey, he dodged the bullet because he made his bad vote and then retired by the time the country woke up to it." But right now I don’t think very many people seeking office are going to be running around to very many constituents and saying, "You better reelect me because I voted to get us into Iraq."

Armey went on to say

I’m not clear why we got in here [in Iraq] in the first place. We’re mired down here. It doesn’t seem to me we’re making any progress. I wonder if they’re doing it right and how in the heck are we ever going to get out of it. And then you take a look at that and say, who’s to blame? Well, there’s only one guy to blame, that’s your commander in chief…I don’t know how you get out of [Iraq]. Sooner or later, there’s going to have to be a decision to get out, probably with some disregard for the consequences.
As I said below, I think Dick Armey [former House Majority Leader involved in the Republican Revolution of 1994] is a bit naive about the shoddy performance of our [twelve year] Republican Congress, but my hat’s off to him for this one. In this interview, Dick Armey is doing something that is unique for a politician, and unheard of for a modern Republican. He’s saying he was wrong – that he sort of knew it at the time. And he’s not making any excuses.

They were wrong, tragically wrong, and his comment, "Sooner or later, there’s going to have to be a decision to get out, probably with some disregard for the consequences" is the only correct thing to say. There’s no way to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

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