In the wake of Sen. John Kerry’s belated apology for offending troops deployed in Iraq, House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is being asked by Democrats to apologize for seemingly blaming senior military officers for any problems with the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. Boehner, however, does not appear to be budging.Speaking in the context of why Iraq is such a mess, Boehner says that "You have to understand that it is the Generals that are in charge," and he doesn't think he's blaming the generals?
“Good try,” he said when asked about demands for an apology.
In a Wednesday appearance on CNN, Boehner was asked for his view on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. policy in Iraq.
“There are a lot of people who want to blame what’s happening in Iraq on Donald Rumsfeld, but when you look at the transformation that our military has been through, it’s nothing short of remarkable,” Boehner said. “The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge.”
Boehner acknowledged that “there have been mistakes along the way,” but did not blame Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld, Boehner said, has been pushing the military to transform, but the uniformed military leaders have resisted.
“You have to understand that the generals who have been in charge of the Pentagon have been very resistant to change,” Boehner said.
This all comes down to the old law about playing against expectations. If a "troop hating liberal" slips up about the troops, he's going to get upbraided. If a "racist conservative" slips up about cultural demographics, he's going to get yelled at as well. Only Nixon could go to China, and only the Republican Majority Leader or the Republican National Security Advisor can blame the troops for strategic policy failures and get away without a firestorm.