Caldara, Republican guests misrepresented Iraq war resolutions

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Newsradio 850 KOA host Jon Caldara failed to challenge the dubious assertion of Republican state Sen. Mike Kopp that a proposed resolution against a troop buildup in Iraq directs "pointless insults" at U.S. troops. Further, Caldara stated that a committee hearing allowing "public participation" on the resolution would let Democrats display a "circus of people screaming about how we need to end the war."

On the March 12 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, Jon Caldara did not challenge state Sen. Mike Kopp's (R-Littleton) dubious assertion that a proposed Democratic-sponsored resolution opposing the Bush administration's Iraq troop "escalation" directs "pointless insults" at U.S. forces. Kopp and state Senate Minority Leader Andrew McElhany (R-Colorado Springs) further alleged that Democrats ordered the resolution sent to committee, rather than to the Senate floor, in order to allow a "circus of people screaming about how we need to end the war," as Caldara put it. Additionally, McElhany misrepresented a 2003 Iraq war resolution passed by the Colorado legislature, claiming it "just simply said we support our troops and wish them well."

Senate Joint Memorial 002 -- "Memorializing Congress and the President to Stop the Escalation of the War in Iraq" -- was sponsored by Democratic state Sens. Ron Tupa (Boulder) and Ken Gordon (Denver) and was scheduled for a committee hearing on March 14. Caldara, president of the conservative Independence Institute, introduced Kopp's input on the resolution by noting that Kopp is a veteran of the 1990-91 Gulf War:

CALDARA: As a former -- you, you were a Army guy or a Marine?

KOPP: Yeah. Yeah, I was an Army guy.

CALDARA: All right, so as an Army guy who was out there, you understand how devastating these type of resolutions are to the guys on the ground.

KOPP: Well, they really are. And I guess part -- part of that -- it's not that Army guys are over there carrying a chip on their shoulder about this type of thing. But, you know, here they are in very difficult situation, and they're -- they're literally putting their very lives on the line to defend freedom, and to have people looking over their shoulder and hurling essentially what amounts to pointless insults at them is -- is maddening. And, you know, any good commander will tell you that keeping the morale of your troops high is an absolutely indispensable --

In fact, contrary to Kopp's insinuation that the resolution "insult[s]" the troops, the resolution specifically "honors the bravery and sacrifice of the United States' armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan." The resolution also notes that "[o]n February 7, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Peter Pace acknowledged that a debate in Congress on the war in Iraq would not hurt the morale of troops in combat," as has been reported.

McElhany sought to contrast SJM 002 with a resolution in support of the war that the Republican-led legislature passed in 2003, dubiously claiming that a similar resolution would not be controversial now:

MCELHANY: Yes. It was a -- supporting the troops and showing that we were behind them. And it was non-controversial, and it passed on a nearly unanimous vote. I think there were maybe a few flakes on it. But it was pretty much a unanimous vote and non-controversial, and I think if -- if they were offering a resolution that said we support the troops and wish them well that this also would be non-controversial.

CALDARA: But let -- let, let -- let me -- let me hit you with this. Why would it be OK a few years ago, senator, to weigh in saying we support this mission, we wish them the best, and we stand behind you. If you were able to do it a few years ago in that direction, why is it a problem to -- to flip over and say, you know, we changed our mind, and the people of Colorado just don't support what you're doing?

MCELHANY: Well, I think that the difference is that, that -- that simply said that -- the '03 resolution just simply said we support our troops and wish them well. If they -- if they offered that amendment today I suspect it would be non-controversial today as well.

However, the 2003 resolution went beyond "simply" affirming that "we support our troops and wish them well." It stated that "Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction" and that "Saddam Hussein and his regime maintain a continuing, documented involvement with the global terrorist movement" -- two controversial assertions shown to have been false.

Summing up the conversations from earlier in his broadcast, Caldara thanked his guests for giving "a heads-up that, in fact, what we're gonna get is some showboating" when the Tupa-Gordon resolution goes to committee. He asserted, "By putting it through a committee it allows for public participation, therefore the circus of people screaming about how we need to end the war."

But the contention that Democrats sent the resolution to committee solely to air the views of war opponents is dubious. As The Denver Post reported on March 4, Tupa requested a committee hearing partly in response to "e-mail from parents of soldiers" killed in Iraq who "want to tell us how they feel":

Although most resolutions are heard only on the floor, Tupa has requested a committee hearing March 14 so supporters and opponents can be heard.

"We are getting lots of e-mail from parents of soldiers who want to weigh in. They want to tell us how they feel," he said.

More than 100 Colorado soldiers have died in Iraq, he said, and their parents have sent e-mails "saying they don't want them dying for nothing."

The final vote is expected to fall mainly along party lines.

From the March 12 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:

CALDARA: As a former -- you, you were a Army guy or a Marine?

KOPP: Yeah. Yeah, I was an Army guy.

CALDARA: All right, so as an Army guy who was out there, you understand how devastating these type of resolutions are to the guys on the ground.

KOPP: Well, they really are. And I guess part -- part of that -- it's not that Army guys are over there carrying a chip on their shoulder about this type of thing. But, you know, here they are in very difficult situation, and they're -- they're literally putting their very lives on the line to defend freedom, and to have people looking over their shoulder and, and hurling essentially what amounts to pointless insults at them is -- is maddening. And, you know, any good commander will tell you that keeping the morale of your troops high is an absolutely indispensable --

CALDARA: Well now, let me -- let me play devil's advocate with both you senators. And maybe I'll -- I'll -- let me point this to Senator McElhany first. Yeah, it's -- it's great when you keep the morale high, and in fact didn't a few years ago you guys put a resolution forward supporting the Iraqi invasion?

MCELHANY: Yes.

CALDARA: Help me remember that, Andy.

MCELHANY: Yes. It was a -- supporting the troops and showing that we were behind them. And it was non-controversial, and it passed on a nearly unanimous vote. I think there were maybe a few flakes on it. But it was pretty much a unanimous vote and non-controversial, and I think if -- if they were offering a resolution that said we support the troops and wish them well that this also would be non-controversial.

CALDARA: But let -- let, let -- let me -- let me hit you with this. Why would it be OK a few years ago, senator, to weigh in saying we support this mission, we wish them the best, and we stand behind you. If you were able to do it a few years ago in that direction, why is it a problem to -- to flip over and say, you know, we changed our mind, and the people of Colorado just don't support what you're doing?

MCELHANY: Well, I think that the difference is that, that -- that simply said that -- the '03 resolution just simply said we support our troops and wish them well. If they -- if they offered that amendment today I suspect it would be non-controversial today as well. This one goes another step, though. It says that we oppose giving our troops the reinforcements that their military commanders say that they deserve and that they need to survive. We're, this -- if -- if this resolution had any power and was carried out what's asked for in the resolution, it would be devastating to the troops and would put them in danger. The resolution doesn't say what Colorado supports. It just says we don't support giving them reinforcements. It doesn't say we want to withdraw. It doesn't say we want the status quo to continue. It just says one thing we don't like.

[...]

CALDARA: Thanks to the state legislators who came on earlier to give us a heads-up that, in fact, what we're gonna get is some showboating on Wednesday. That's right: good old-fashioned showboating. There is no reason that this anti-war resolution has to go to a committee. In fact, they never go to committees; they just go right to the floor. By putting it through a committee it allows for public participation, therefore the circus of people screaming about how we need to end the war.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.