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Kucinich Blasts Democrats
Posted on Mar 23, 2007
Not everyone was celebrating the passage of the Iraq spending bill on Friday. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, told Truthdig it’s “a disaster for the American people.” The presidential candidate went on to explain his dissatisfaction with his party: “It’s the same kind of thinking that led us into Iraq— that we didn’t have any alternatives.”
(running time: about 12 mins / 11.2 MB)
James Harris: This is Truthdig on the phone, Dennis Kucinich, representative from the state of Ohio since 1996. Today we have the honor of talking to you just after the bill that passed on the House floor, a bill that will require President Bush to oppose benchmarks for progress on the Iraqi government and link them to the continued presence of American combat troops. Dennis, is this bill a victory for Democrats?
Dennis Kucinich: It’s a disaster for the American people. The Democrats should have been voting—or come up with a plan to get out of Iraq. Not one that’s going to keep us there a year or two. It’s the same kind of thinking that led us into Iraq—that we didn’t have any alternatives. It’s the same thing that caused the Democrats to construct a plan that will keep us there at least for a year, and saying, well, we don’t have any other alternatives. I can tell you something, we could have come up with a plan that would have called for the troops to come home in the next few months. But we didn’t do that, so I, no one can tell me it’s a time for celebration. It’s a disaster.
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Kucinich: We should be listening to what the American people had to say last October, and that is taking steps to immediately end the war. And that means to set in motion a plan to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home using money that’s already in the pipeline to do so. At the same time there’s a parallel process of bringing in international security and peacekeeping forces to stabilize Iraq. And we can get that help once we end the occupation. Then you have to have a number of other steps that are taken. Most people aren’t aware that this bill that Congress passed sets the stage for the privatization of Iraq’s oil, oil industry. To have the Democratic Party involved in something like that is outrageous. Furthermore, we should be pushing for the stabilization of Iraq’s food and energy crisis. There’s no talk about that. Basically we’re blaming Iraq for the disaster that the United States and this administration visited upon them. We’re telling them, either they’re going to get their house in order or we’re going to leave. Well, you know what, this approach is wrongheaded and the Democrats should have known better and they should have done better.
Harris: Nancy Pelosi, I think she’s partying right now. She feels like she’s done a good job. I’m going to say, Dennis, that I think she has done a good job if you follow the diplomatic line of things. She couldn’t go in with guns blazing and saying “get those troops out.” These benchmarks do mean something.
Kucinich: Why couldn’t she have said: “This war must end”? Congress has the power to cut off funds. Congress has the power to limit the funds. Congress could have taken a new direction. Let’s face it, Democrats are expected to do that. ... We need to go in a new direction. And that direction is out. And the fact that we gave the president money today to keep the war going through the end of his term constitutes a sellout of the interests of the American people. And a continuation of the war for another year at least, possibly two, and this is just wrong. Just totally wrong.
Josh Scheer: Now with the president, he said he’s going to veto this. And he said this is an act of political theater. And this bill will go nowhere. How is this going to effect the funding? Is he going to get that, or is he going to try to line-item it?
Kucinich: First of all, the Democrats were too quick to compromise. For the president to call it political theater shows the contempt he has for Congress. And Congress has a responsibility to challenge this administration’s conduct of the war; they didn’t do it. They gave the president a license to continue to prosecute the war, and the president said, look, I’m not going along with any restrictions you want to put on me. He doesn’t intend to. He intends to keep this war going. And when you consider that 218 Democrats or 216 Democrats voted for this bill and you match that to the 212 Republicans, or, excuse me, 208—I believe it was 210 Republicans that voted against it—the president has enough support in the Congress to keep the war going. That’s pretty clear. What about what the American people think? Isn’t this supposed to be representative government? Do you think that support for the war has really grown? Not by a long shot has it grown. What’s happened is that support for the war is being tolerated inside the Congress. This is upside down. If the Democrats had told the American people in October 2006, “Vote Democrat, we’ll keep the war going till the end of Bush’s term; vote Democrat, we’ll privatize Iraq’s oil; vote Democrat, we’ll give the president enough money to attack Iran if he so chooses,” the American people would have never voted Democrat. But guess what, they did vote Democrat, and the Democrats have turned around and handed the president a license to keep that war going, and that’s not even enough for him. Because he doesn’t want any restrictions placed on him, and the fact of the matter is even if they put restrictions on him he wouldn’t follow them anyhow.
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