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Speaker Pelosi Too Busy for Iraq Briefing

As proof the fight over Iraq isn’t really about policy or military strategy but political maneuvering, this week Speaker Pelosi said she is unable to meet with General Petraeus to discuss Iraq. Huh? The leader of the House (and of the Democratic House majority) is too busy to discuss Iraq with the guy who knows what’s going on? How can she (or other Democrats) speak intelligently about options in Iraq when she’s so uninformed? Perhaps she doesn’t need the briefing because she’s already made up her mind and doesn’t want to be confused by facts — we can’t imagine a reason why the House Speaker would decline a briefing from the General on the ground who is best suited to report on the status in Iraq.

What’s curious is that congressional Democrats don’t seem much interested in what’s actually happening in Iraq. The commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, returns to Washington this week, but last week Pelosi’s office said “scheduling conflicts” prevented him from briefing House members. Two days later, the members-only meeting was scheduled, but the episode brings to mind the fact that Pelosi and other top House Democrats skipped a Pentagon videoconference with Petraeus March 8.

So when the General in charge comes to brief Congress, the Speaker won’t be in attendance:

Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is briefing House members on Wednesday on President Bush’s Iraq troop surge in his first appearance on Capitol Hill to assess the latest military efforts to lessen sectarian and Al Qaeda-sponsored violence in Iraq.

Petraeus will offer his military assessment of the new Iraq security plan and take questions in a closed-door session on the House floor. All lawmakers are invited, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will not attend.

“While Speaker Pelosi was able to jet-set around the globe to meet with Syrian leaders, she finds it inconvenient to meet with the U.S. commander in Iraq during his brief visit to Washington,” Wilson said.

Pelosi’s absence is notable because Democrats are skeptical of the surge, are trying change course in Iraq and this is Petraeus’ first meeting with them since becoming architect of the biggest tactical shift in Iraq in some time.

Another factor of note – the Democrats war funding bill requires monthly assessments from Petraeus on military progress in Iraq as the surge continues. Democrats have described these updates as crucial to Congress’ ability to measure success in Iraq. Pelosi’s absence could be seen by some as undercutting the importance of these monthly briefings

By avoiding real discussion, Madam Speaker, you show your hand for what it is — just partisan politics and not really about policy. You and your fellow Democrats (Harry “war-is-lost” Reid) should be ashamed for not doing your duty. TV sound bites may make good political points, but are worthless for doing what you’ve been elected to do. If you truly want a “new direction” on Iraq, you first need to be informed on what the status is before formulating new policy. If you decline briefings, we can only assume it’s because you’re not really interested in policy, only politics.

Stop the partisan politics, and get back to work, Madam Speaker. Foreign policy is much too important for games.

Someone commented we didn’t mention Speaker Pelosi did speak by phone to the General, so here’s the relevant snippet in case you didn’t read the referenced articles.

Pelosi’s staff cited a scheduling conflict for her absence. However, she and Murtha spoke by phone with Petraeus for 30 minutes on Tuesday, which she said was sufficient.

Of course, does a 30 minute phone call for such a critical issue exempt attendance from other briefings? We think not.



  1. Jason says:

    What you failed to mention is that this meeting was a last-minute addition to her alread-busy schedule. You also did not mention that Speaker Pelosi not only had over a 30 minute phone call with the General, but also rescheduled a private meeting with the General and her closest advisors. If you’re going to comment on someone’s ability to do their job, at least give people reading your blog all the facts.

  2. “last-minute addition to her busy schedule?” Iraq was (supposedly) the #1 issue from the last election. If a schedule must be changed to free up time, then do it. The Democrats made this the main issue from the election; if they’re not taking EVERY opportunity to gather information on such a critical issue and discuss alternatives, then maybe it’s not as important to them as they say (and instead only use it for political purposes, not for finding solutions).

    If you read the articles, they do mention the 30 minute phone call. But seriously, a 30 minute phone call for such a critical issue? How many alternatives could possibly be discussed in 30 minutes?

    The point is if Speaker Pelosi only has 30 minutes to discuss Iraq with the man in charge of the mission (and can thus skip any additional briefings), it obviously isn’t a very important issue relative to everything else on the agenda, which contradicts what many have said to the media. In short, actions aren’t measuring up to words, and that’s the point. The existence of the brief phone call doesn’t change that point, which is why it’s not really important.

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