WASHINGTON — George W. Bush “turned tail” from the Afghan war to invade Iraq, leaving President Barack Obama a worsening war he must now try to turn around, a senior Democratic White House ally said Tuesday.
In unusually sharp comments, Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was “angry” about former vice president Dick Cheney’s latest attacks on Obama’s handling of a bloody conflict now in its ninth year.
“Frankly, they turned tail. That’s pretty tough language, but I get angry when I hear vice president Cheney talk about a job they started but didn’t finish,” Hoyer told reporters.
“They started something and didn’t finish it, and they left it for this administration to clean up,” he said. “We are clearly not making the same mistake the Bush administration made.”
Hoyer, speaking hours before Obama was expected to use a televised prime-time address to unveil plans for sending 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan, said he would “reserve judgment” for now on the new strategy.
Hoyer said he hoped Obama and top aides due to testify before the US Congress, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, would detail the new approach’s “possibility for success.”
Hoyer also acknowledged “great reservations” among Obama’s Democratic allies over the planned escalation, and declined for now to support a proposal from some of the conflict’s critics to levy a special tax to pay for the war.
“I’m not supporting it at this point in time,” said Hoyer, who underlined that he backs the “general proposition” behind the initiative and would discuss it with the chief author, Democratic Representative David Obey.
Asked about worries about the war among the White House’s Democratic allies in the US Congress, Hoyer acknowledged “great reservations within our caucus about escalating our effort.
“There is obviously significant concern about whether or not we can be successful in Afghanistan,” he added.
Most Democrats are not expected to support any plan to withhold funding for the effort, and most Republicans are expected to back military spending bills.
On Monday, RAW STORY reported that Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) blasted the Bush administration for fouling up the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
“Look what happened with regard to our invasion into Afghanistan, how we apparently intentionally let bin Laden get away,” Hinchey said. “How we intentionally did not follow the Taliban and al-Qaeda as they were escaping. That was done by the previous administration because they knew very well that if they would capture al-Qaeda, there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq.”