Tony Blankley

To make up for their political hesitation in using their lawful power to cut off the dollars, they are supercharging their rhetoric. When I was on "Hardball" last week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) charmingly waxed wrath over what she would do to those rascally Republicans in the White House. She would among other things, "hold their feet to the fire" (which sounds worse than water-boarding). The one thing she wouldn't quite say was that she would actually vote to cut off the money. And, without wishing to deprecate the merits and value of the congresswoman's words, I suspect that the president would be more deeply affected by her vote to cut off the money than by her words of earnest chastisement of his policy.

So let's follow Speaker Pelosi's sage advice and speak honestly to the American people about the war. The president will fairly soon need a supplemental appropriation to fund the next tranche of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that time, the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate can pass a bill that appropriates money for some things and not for others. They can, for instance, pass a bill that says that not one dollar may be spent to fund further combat pay for troop levels above a certain level in Iraq. The president can veto such legislation (as Clinton did of some Gingrich-era appropriations -- thus shutting down the government). But he can't get a single new penny until Congress passes and he signs a bill. To be clear, the president has the constitutional authority as commander in chief to send the extra troops into battle. But he also will need the money to send them.

While Mrs. Pelosi herself has now raised the possibility of cutting off money (good for her honesty on this point -- though not for her policy), her minions are still trying to have it both ways -- they want to placate their anti-war supporters, but not end the war.

And, let me challenge the Republicans, too, while I am on my jihad against political parties not honestly defending their positions even though they "can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties" (George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language").

The expected troop increase in Iraq is not a surge -- a surge being a transient sudden rise. There is no plausible military theory which would rely on a brief increase in troop strength followed by the immediate withdrawal of such troops from Iraq.

The troops would surely be in theater for an indefinite period. The words escalation, re-enforcements or higher sustained troop levels would all be honest. The word "surge" is deceptive.

While it would be impractical to expect brutal verbal honesty in politics on a regular basis, when we are talking about war and peace, about life and death of our young citizen warriors, we owe them (and ourselves) as much honest talk as we can muster.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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