Two Consistent and Courageous Senators with Totally Opposite Views on the War in Iraq

John McCain and Russ Feingold could not be more different about their views of the War in Iraq. Feingold is prepared to cut off all funding, to bring the troops home now, and thus to stop the President’s direction. McCain is just the opposite in his view. He believes we actually need even more troops than the “surge” calls for. He has been saying this for well over a year, long before most in the Senate or elsewhere even discussed it. But there is one thing that unites Feingold and McCain. Both are consistent and both are bold in stating their views. They are not willing to spin this war in the air waiting to see how much they can defend or attack and then get away with it. Both men have the courage of their convictions, which may explain why they stood side-by-side in their campaign for financial reform legislation just a few years ago. (Their famous bill, known as the McCain-Feingold Act, proved to really solve almost nothing even though it tried to present some real solutions in the area of campaign finance reform and abuse.)

The majority of senators appear, at least to me, to be intellectually dishonest. They want to approve General David Petraeus, not cut off funding for our troops, but then tell the president he is all wrong and if the mission fails it will then all be his fault. This is the coward’s way out of a national nightmare and a political mess. This way the senators can blame Bush and do absolutely nothing but send the enemy the wrong signals. Feingold at least has the guts to say so and to put his solution forward with integrity. McCain is also acting with integrity even though it could cost him his shot at the presidency in the process. McCain put this well when he said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission and you don’t want to fund it and you don’t want it to go, but yet you don’t take the action necessary to prevent it.” Feingold is, in this case, willing to take the action. Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, Joe Biden, Chuck Dodd, and Chuck Hagel want it both ways. The result is an obvious mess with everyone now wanting to blame Bush, forgetting that almost all of these same men and women voted to allow him to begin this military campaign.

McCain is clearly right. If you believe this mission is doomed to fail then vote to stop funding it and try to force the troops home now. Hagel, the outspoken Republican opponent of Bush on this war, disagrees with McCain, saying the resolution against Bush would make clear the Senate’s belief that his policy is misguided. Sorry Senator Hagel but you sir are not really willing to be consistent and I have no respect for your views at all. I believe Russ Feingold has the high ground on his side in this debate. It is time our Senate acted with some courage, one way or the other. 

This war has been mismanaged, abjectly pursued militarily, and terribly flawed in strategy at almost every turn. If it is time to go home then please say so and vote that way. If it is time to change course and seek to still win in Iraq then say so. McCain and Feingold seem, at least to me, to be saying exactly what should be said. Most of the Senate is filled with cowards who will never take action from all appearances. At least Bush has taken action, even if it is wrong. He did what people cried for—he got rid of Rumsfeld, changed the course, and began an approach to try to deal with a counter-insurgency.  If you think he is wrong then urge the Senate to take action against him. If you think he is right then urge the Senate to stop this nonsense and back him. It seems to me that is now time for statesmen, and stateswomen, to stand up and take some responsibility for their own actions besides blaming George W. Bush for everything that goes wrong. Elections seem endless in this country and thus this all seems to be about posturing for the next one. Didn’t we just end an election cycle a few months ago?

I am not sure we even know what courage is any longer. It seems to be a long lost virtue. My prayer is simple: May God give us men and women with courage, even when they disagree.