Democrats: Change Iraq strategy
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published January 24, 2007
WASHINGTON - Democrats blistered President Bush's war policy Tuesday night, challenging him to redeem the nation's credibility - and his own - with an immediate shift toward a diplomatic end to the bloody conflict in Iraq.
"The president took us into this war recklessly," the Democrats' chosen messenger, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, said in response to Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday evening. "We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed."
Webb, a Vietnam veteran who was Navy secretary during Republican President Ronald Reagan's administration, called for a new direction.
"Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos," he said. "But an immediate shift toward strong regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq."
Bush offered no such plan in his speech before the most unfriendly joint session of Congress of his tenure.
Newly installed majority Democrats had made clear since Friday that they believe Bush no longer controls the nation's policy agenda, especially on Iraq.
In a speech written himself and previewed by senior Democratic officials, Webb, a freshman senator, challenged Bush to support the House-passed minimum wage increase and nurture an economy that restores the middle class. And he said Democrats would work with Bush to promote energy independence.
But he chose harsher rhetoric for what he framed as Bush's abuse of the public's loyalty, trust and welfare in the rush to war.
"The war's costs to our nation have been staggering," said Webb, whose son is serving in the military in Iraq.
[Last modified January 24, 2007, 00:32:10]
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