[Rep. Robert I Wexler, D-Fla] told Powell he considered him to be “the credible voice in the administration.”
“When you reached the conclusion that Iraq represented a clear and present danger to the United States, that meant a lot to me,” Wexler said. “But the facts suggest there was a part of the story that was not true.”
Powell fielded the assertions calmly, defending the president’s judgment and his own.
But when [Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio] contrasted Powell’s military experience to Bush’s record with the National Guard, saying the president “may have been AWOL” from duty, Powell exploded.
“First of all, Mr. Brown, I won’t dignify your comments about the president because you don’t know what you are talking about,” Powell snapped.
“I’m sorry I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Secretary,” Brown replied.
“You made reference to the president,” Powell shot back.
Brown then repeated his understanding that Bush may have been AWOL from guard duty.
“Mr. Brown, let’s not go there,” Powell retorted. “Let’s not go there in this hearing. If you want to have a political fight on this matter, that is very controversial, and I think it is being dealt with by the White House, fine, but let’s not go there.”
Powell then went on to defend the Bush administration’s assertions on Iraq’s pre-war weaponry. “We didn’t make it up,” Powell said. “It was information that reflected the views of analysts in all the various agencies.”
Based on Wexler’s comments, I guess Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney–or anyone other than Powell–are no longer credible in the eyes of Democratic congressmen. And since when did Democrats get so concerned about avoiding military service?
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links to the above article, but also includes contact information for the Democratic congressmen mentioned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Timothy Perry writes: “Funny how this has not made the air on the mainstream media since it happened. You would think this would turn into great television, but then again it was someone defending the president instead of smearing him. ”
Perhaps the Congressmen should heed the advice of a Democratic senator who stood on the floor of the Senate in 1992 and said:
What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be re-fighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary.
We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism by opposing the war as by fighting in it. Are we now, 20 years or 30 years later, to forget the difficulties of that time, of families that were literally torn apart, of brothers who ceased to talk to brothers, of fathers who disowned their sons, of people who felt compelled to leave the country and forget their own future and turn against the will of their own aspirations?
That man? John F. Kerry.