Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fitzpatrick Changes Stance on Iraq

The Patrick Murphy campaign sent out a press release today pointing out incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick's (PA-08) reversal on Iraq. I did some checking and indeed, in today's Bucks County Courier Times ("Fitzpatrick takes new stance on Iraq war policy," by Brian Scheid), Fitzpatrick says this:

Freshman Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, Monday blasted President Bush's “stay the course” policy for the war in Iraq, a strategy he has publicly supported throughout his first-term on Capitol Hill.

“I have reluctantly concluded ... that when it comes to the war in Iraq, President Bush has been bold, principled, resolute, but mistaken in crucial ways vital to the success of our mission there,” Fitzpatrick said Monday morning in a conference call with reporters. “I believe we need a new strategy for success in Iraq.”

Fitzpatrick said Bush has not sent enough troops into Iraq, underestimated the “tenacity” of the United States' enemies in the war and has not properly conveyed how long the war would last or how difficult it would be to win.

However, Fitzpatrick offered no new strategy for America's role in the war and criticized what he called the “cut and run” strategy proposed by Democrat and Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy, his opponent in November's election.


I'm always dubious of someone who criticizes someone else's plan when they don't have anything to offer themselves (Murphy's plan on his website here). Later in the article Fitzpatrick takes some personal swipes at Murphy. I don't like this either.

The Murphy press release collected several earlier quotes from Fitzpatrick on Iraq. I checked 3 of them for accuracy; those were okay so I assume the rest are as well. (This is not a slight to the Murphy people, I would spot check this kind of data from anyone before posting it here.)

Quotes:

“Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, like President Bush and Pennsylvania's two Republican U.S. senators, believes American troops need to ‘stay the course’ in Iraq. . . . [T]he freshman Congressman reiterated his support for efforts in Iraq, saying he's heard positive reports from area people serving there.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 12/10/05.]

“Fitzpatrick also agreed with the president's plan to keep troops in Iraq . . . . ‘I believe the president is correct that we should stay until the job is done,’ Fitzpatrick said.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 2/3/05.]

“Fitzpatrick argued that progress has been made in Iraq and that the United States would be giving up ultimate victory if it pulls out too soon. He also argued that decisions about the war should hinge on the guidance of military leaders, not ‘political whims.’" [Bucks County Courier Times, 1/28/06.]

"‘It is not in our nation's best interest to set an arbitrary date for withdrawal,’ said Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who represents Bucks County and small parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. ‘I believe the decision to redeploy and withdraw our troops should be based on a specific set of goals and objectives determined by military and foreign policy experts.’" [Doylestown Intelligencer, 6/17/05.]

“[Fitzpatrick] said he does not back the Murtha plan and would not support troop withdrawals until the country’s government has stabilized.” [Allentown Morning Call, 12/15/05]

“It's curious that Rep. Fitzpatrick is unwilling to voice his opinion on Bush's decision to stay the course with Secretary Rumsfeld. We asked the congressman and he wouldn't tell us. When pressed to say whether his silence indicated agreement with the president, we were told not to make such an inference. Through a spokesman, Fitzpatrick said he doesn't feel it's his place to offer an opinion, since he didn't hire Rumsfeld and only the president can fire him.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 6/26/06.]

Roll Call Votes:

“IRAQ PLANS: Members on June 16 voted, 223 for and 220 against, to block a Democratic amendment requiring President Bush to set forth within 30 days his criteria for determining whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. Democrats offered this procedural motion after the Republican leadership denied consideration of the amendment in next week's debate on fiscal 2006 defense appropriations (HR 2863). A yes vote was to block the Democratic amendment. Voting yes: . . . Fitzpatrick.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 6/19/05.]

“PULLOUT FROM IRAQ: Voting 128 for and 300 against, the House on May 25 rejected a call for President Bush to provide Congress a plan for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. The non-binding amendment was offered to HR 1815 (above). A yes vote backed the amendment . . . . Voting no: . . . Fitzpatrick . . . .” [Bucks County Courier Times, 5/29/05].

In 2005, Fitzpatrick voted against an amendment to provide $5 million to establish a select committee to investigate reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including contracting procedures, protection against money laundering, and the allocation of contracts to foreign companies and small businesses. In October 2004, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board released an audit of the Bush Administration's management of Iraqi oil proceeds and other funds in the Development Fund for Iraq. Problems found involved hundreds of millions of dollars, numerous sole source contracts and missing and nonexistent contract files. The amendment was rejected, 191-236, Fitzpatrick voted no.


As another contrast, Fitzpatrick and seven other congressmen visited troops in Iraq. While he was speaking with a group of nurses at the Anaconda Airbase in Balad, the base was hit with mortars. Here is a quote from the Bucks County Courier Times ("Fitzpatrick under fire in Iraq," by Brian Scheid, 12/31/05):

As explosions and gunfire ripped through the night, Fitzpatrick said he was escorted into a bunker with other soldiers for about an hour until the "all clear" signal was sounded.

Fitzpatrick who was in Iraq on a tour of the war-torn Middle East with seven other congressmen, said no one was injured in the bombardment. He said one of the soldiers he met seemed to be accustomed to the shelling.

"You get the impression that they operate under these circumstances from time to time," he said from a phone at a U.S. air base is Islamabad, Pakistan. "It was a surprise and a serious time."


He's surprised that mortars are fired in a war and that the soldiers are accustomed to it? What did he think people were doing over there, thumb wrestling? He thinks they operate under these circumstances FROM TIME TO TIME!!!! IT'S A WAR! They operate under these circumstances ALL THE TIME! Sorry about the "all caps" but, seriously, how naive can you be?

Murphy, by contrast, served in Iraq, as detailed in the bio on his website:

With this background, it is no surprise that Patrick went on to become a West Point professor, airborne and air assault qualified, a JAG Corps attorney, and that he served two deployments after 9/11 — the first to Bosnia in 2002 and the second to Baghdad, Iraq in 2003-2004 as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

In Iraq, Captain Murphy advised on offensive operations, initiated reconstruction efforts within the justice system, trained the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps on the rules of engagement and was instrumental in the prosecution of Sheik Moyad, a radical lieutenant of Muqtada Sadr. For his service, Patrick earned the Bronze Star and his unit earned the Presidential Unit Citation.


Of these two, which one would you want making decisions for your loved ones serving in Iraq? The guy who's shocked that mortars are flying around or the guy who jumped out of planes and served on the ground? The candidate with a plan or the one who just realized that maybe we need a new strategy for success but doesn't know what that strategy should be? I'd side with the candidate who had immediate experience and had thought through enough to commit some ideas to paper.

3 comments:

Daddy Democrat said...

Great post, AAJ. Don't worry about your momentary all-caps. The chickenhawks really are exasperating.

phillydem said...

Lamont's win last night shows just how dangerous it is for any pol to cozy up to Bush or the war in Iraq. Americans are mad as h--- and are going to take it out on incumbents who do so. No wonder Fitzpatrick is running for cover, but Pat Murphy won't let him get away with it.

eRobin said...


Of these two, which one would you want making decisions for your loved ones serving in Iraq? The guy who's shocked that mortars are flying around or the guy who jumped out of planes and served on the ground? The candidate with a plan or the one who just realized that maybe we need a new strategy for success but doesn't know what that strategy should be? I'd side with the candidate who had immediate experience and had thought through enough to commit some ideas to paper.


Beautifully put.