Wayne Gilchrest Prepares to Tack to the Right

On this blog I’ve tried to steer clear of issues of national policy. That’s why you’ll find no discussion of the Petraeus report, etc. here. But we do have a direct connection to the national debate on the war in Iraq. That connection is Congressman Wayne Gilchrest.

Mr. Gilchrest is one of two Republicans who have consistently voted with a majority of the Democrat caucus to require a US withdrawal from Iraq. Now Mr. Gilchrest denies his vote was for withdrawal, plausible perhaps if one also cops to personal and staff illiteracy.

Now, Mr. Gilchrest again demonstrates the moral courage that led him to support the war, oppose the war, and who knows what next week. Opinion polls. His website claims he has written the President a letter:

“It is evident that the troop surge has provided added security in numerous parts of Baghdad and political developments at the local level are encouraging,” Gilchrest wrote. “It is my hope that these gains can help set the stage for political reconciliation at the national level and eventually suppress sectarian and ethnic violence in other parts of the country. Tragically, however, sectarian violence continues to cause death and displacement in Baghdad and elsewhere. Furthermore, there is consensus within our military establishment that current troop levels cannot be sustained much past March of 2008, unless already onerous tours of duty are extended yet again.”

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“Much is riding on the Petraeus/Crocker report, but there are other critical pieces to this puzzle that cannot be answered by a report on merely the status of Iraq’s capital city. As you consider the analysis presented by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on the status of Baghdad’s security progress, I urge you to consider the following questions before your address to the American people on the status of the war in Iraq, our overall Middle East policy, and its importance to the global war on terror.”

The Congressman included a list of questions that must be considered in order to get a deeper understanding of the challenges facing our troops in Iraq and to assure greater stability in the Middle East. A copy of the letter is attached.

“These are the types of large, over-reaching policy questions that must be considered as we decide our next steps in Iraq, and must also be acknowledged as the Congress and the Administration make their case to the American public. We have to end this overly simplistic and meaningless debate of “staying the course” versus “cutting and running” and finally address some of the serious policy questions that any future role in the Middle East demands,” Gilchrest said.

It is kind of hard to do a lot of the things the congressman wants done if you’re busily flying troops off the roof of the embassy in Baghdad as Mr. Gilchrest’s voting record indicates is his preference. It is even harder to imagine why anyone in Iraq would bother to listen to you if they know you are hellbent on leaving them to their own devices and the tender mercies of al Qaeda and as a rapacious set of neighbors any nation has ever had.

Of course, Mr. Gilchrest wants to change the terms of the debate because he is in favor of the “cut and run” option, he’s voted for it twice, and it would seem that opinion polls have told him his constituents are not quite as surrender minded as he.

My prediction. Mr. Gilchrest will use the Petraeus report as a convenient point of reference that will allow him to walk away from his anti-war/pro-al Qaeda votes on Iraq claiming that the situation has changed dramatically and his demands have been me. I wonder how his new best friends will react to that news?

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