Matt's speech was about property taxes and his "Cut it, Cap it, Make it Permanent" platform. There are parts of this idea that I really like and parts that I think are unrealistic but I'll save that argument for another day. I wanted to point out that while I was the only Democrat present I was treated very well by several local Republicans including Dan Turkette, Steve Shine, Mitch Harper, Mark Garvin and even Matt Kelty.
After the press conference was over I was able to ask Congressman Souder a couple of questions about his fence-sitting position on Iraq and I thought I'd share his answers with everyone:
Pruitt: Congressman, our troops were sent to Iraq for this surge under the explanation that they were going to provide security for a political reconciliation, and I know you’ve come out recently and said that you’ve been on the fence about a lot of these recent resolutions. But I guess I’m wondering now that it’s almost certain that the Iraqi Parliament is going to take the month of August off, how can anyone support this strategy anymore and has that caused you to waver at all knowing that the political reconciliation just simply cannot take place?
Souder: My position in voting to go to war, my position in staying there, and my position in a drawdown – not an abandonment – there’s a mis-statement that my concern was over the date of withdrawal. My debate has been over the size of troops that would remain – I don’t believe we should be the occupying power. I had given up on the Iraqi Parliament a long time ago; I would like them to work together, it would be nice , it would be wonderful for democracy. We have to look out for our long term interests in the Middle East. That includes Iran, that includes Israel, that includes not having radical Islamic groups take over Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Yemen – if the radical groups take over there we’re going to have to put five or six hundred thousand troops in the region. So what’s going on in the Iraqi Parliament, I’d given up on them some time ago.
Pruitt: It seems like the differences between your position and the Democratic Party’s position on strategic redeployment or withdrawal or whatever you want to call it are not that far apart. So since you’re on the fence do have any plans to put forth your own bipartisan legislation to try and wrap this up?
Souder: I’ve stated my, because people have asked me “well what are your views”, and I’ve said them over and over, I don’t know whether it’d be thirty or forty thousand troops – that would be really up to the generals. I just believe more bases out in the open spaces where you can see who’s coming at you and then you take the battle to the enemy. I’ve talked to numerous members about offering something like that but have not done so for the following reasons. The moderate Democrats who I’ve talked to including their leadership would support that position and probably as much as half to two-thirds of the Republicans would. The problem is that as long as the President takes one position and the Democrat leadership takes another there’s no room for anybody to break nor is it clear they would even allow that to be offered.
So I’ve stated my position but there’s no real point in putting forth legislation. I believe after the September report, which now looks like Patreus may ask for November, that that position in fact will be the Republican position. My criticism of President Bush has been, if you would’ve taken this position nine to twelve months ago I believe we might’ve been able to get a compromise. Now both sides are so dug in that I don’t know that a compromise is possible. I’ll look at Lugar’s compromise, my guess is that he has a little more faith in the Iraq study group than I do, but I’ve articulated what that is but there isn’t really any point to legislation that five or ten people might sign on but the leadership in either party won’t allow to be offered.
Draw your own conclusion...