In a January 28 editorial headlined “How Iraq affects D.C. reputations,” the Los Angeles Times claimed that Sen. John Warner's (R-VA) assertion “that Congress would have to make 'bold decisions' if the Iraqi government didn't shape up within three months” was surprising "[b]ecause of Warner's long-reliable pro-military vote and support for Bush's foreign policy." In suggesting that Warner's “pro-military” views were inconsistent with asserting that the Iraqi government must “shape up” or face Congress' “bold decisions,” the Times joined other news organizations identified by Media Matters for America (here, here, and here) as equating being “pro-military” and supporting the troops with supporting the war in Iraq. Such a suggestion implies that those who advocate withdrawal from Iraq are not “pro-military” and do not support the troops.
From the January 28 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
Although [Sen. Richard] Lugar [R-IN] had previously enjoyed a reputation as one of the Senate's brightest, the courtly Warner has not radiated the same glow. As chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner was seen as the military's chief champion on Capitol Hill, stern in his defense of both military budgets and martial honor.
Because of Warner's long-reliable pro-military vote and support for Bush's foreign policy, it came as a shock to the body politic when the former Navy secretary returned from a trip to Iraq last October and declared bluntly that Congress would have to make “bold decisions” if the Iraqi government didn't shape up within three months. Warner's reversal made it kosher for Republicans to distance themselves from the president's war during the midterm elections. Three months later, the senator has introduced a resolution opposing Bush's troop escalation.
Warner may not win any lifetime achievement awards from foreign policy observers, but his defiance may go down as a tipping point in the war. Lugar's stellar reputation, on the other hand, only makes the fallout from his Hamlet-like indecision about Iraq worse. Fair? No. But that's war.