Democrats are peaceniks no more.
In a letter to Democratic House members released Tuesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued forcefully for authorizing the president to strike Syria, writing, “It is in our national interest to respond to the Syrian government’s unspeakable use of chemical weapons.”
That, to put it mildly, is a change of tone from Pelosi’s language in the George W. Bush years. In 2002, for instance, Pelosi, then House Democratic whip, called on House members to vote against authorizing the Iraq War.
“These costs to the war on terrorism, the loss of life, the cost to our economy, the cost in dollars to our budget, these costs must be answered for,” Pelosi said in 2002. “If we resolve this issue diplomatically, we can show our strength as a great country.”
“Let us show our greatness,” she concluded. “Vote no on this resolution.”
Two years later, Pelosi’s opposition continued. “This war has been a grotesque mistake that has diminished our reputation in the world and has not made America safer,” she said in a radio address. In 2006, when Democrats won control of the House, Pelosi singled out Iraq as a key issue for the legislature her party now controlled. “Mr. President, we need a new direction in Iraq,” she said.
But don’t think Pelosi is the only Democrat who’s suddenly decided to give war a chance.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the D.C. delegate in the House, who doesn’t have a vote, baldly admitted in an interview Tuesday that if she could vote, she would consider supporting the resolution authorizing President Obama to attack Syria — just so Obama wouldn’t be embarrassed.
“If he gets saved at all, I think it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage,” Norton said on The Bill Press Show.
“At the moment, that’s the only reason I would vote for it if I could vote on it,” she said.
As of Wednesday night, according to the Washington Post’s tally, eleven House Democrats and eight Republicans support the resolution authorizing military action in Syria. (One hundred and three House members are undecided, while the rest are against the resolution or leaning no.) Some of those Democrats did vote for the Iraq War. But others, like Pelosi, were more doves than hawks in the Bush years.
Take Texas’s Sheila Jackson Lee, who is now supporting the resolution. Not only did she oppose the Iraq War, she actually filed a lawsuit along with other Democrats to try to prevent the president from launching it.
Or consider former Vermont governor Howard Dean, whose entire 2004 presidential run was about his vehement opposition to the Iraq War. Now Dean has suddenly seen the light, telling the Huffington Post yesterday, “I agree with the president — I support the president, I hope we do have a very limited intervention that is designed to reduce the possibility of chemical weapons being used in the future.”
And of course, there’s John Kerry himself, who relentlessly criticized Bush on the Iraq War during the 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry voted for the resolution that specifically authorized the Iraq War, but then voted against funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, Kerry’s adamant that the United States must take military action in Syria.
Suddenly, it’s looking like the anti-war party has lost the courage of its convictions in the Obama years.
— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.