Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Big Meetings Yesterday. One Good, One Not

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a press conference on Wednesday after meeting with Iraq Veterans and families of U.S. troops. That meeting was held earlier in the day, before Reid and Pelosi walked over to the White House to talk to George W. Bush about their disagreement on future U.S. presence in Iraq.

Here's some excerpts following the good meeting with military families:
Senator Reid: "Speaker Pelosi and I have had an interesting half hour visiting with these wonderful people. And for me, personally, it gives me confidence going to the White House this afternoon to again underline and underscore that we should not be in Iraq. The war was initiated under false pretenses, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of our country."

Speaker Pelosi: "It is clear that in this war, we do not have a plan worthy of the sacrifice of these families. We salute our men and women in uniform and their families for their courage, their patriotism and the sacrifices they are willing to make for our country. We owe them much more in terms of the plan for the war they're in and a plan for when they come home."

Senator Reid: "The president must recognize that the American people, the military all over America and majorities in both the House and the Senate said the president must change course."
The toughest part to watch was when Deborah Grimm, the mother of a Marine Veteran, spoke.

"My son is a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps. And when he came back from his tour in Iraq, I was with him. And I said: 'Michael' -- I said -- 'when do you think this war is going to end? Do you think there's going to be a swift decision?'

"And he just looked at me and he says, 'Mom' -- he says – 'your grandchildren are going to be fighting this war.'"

You can see video clips of this news conference here.

The meeting later in the day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was about as productive as everyone thought it would be with Bush continuing to say he will veto any legislation calling for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Democratic leaders saying they represent the will of the American people and will not drop the subject.

"We believe he must search his soul, his conscience and find out what is the right thing for the American people," said Reid after the meeting. "I believe signing this bill will do that."

But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino made it clear that's not going to happen.

"It appears that they are determined to send a bill to the president that he won't accept," said Perino. "They fundamentally disagree."

Said Speaker Pelosi: "We came here in a spirit of hope, recognizing that this is a historic opportunity for the executive branch, the president and the Congress to work together to wind down this war and ensure the security of our country and the stability of the region."

And with our troops dying in the middle of an Iraqi civil war every day, it looks like the battle at home continues -- with Democrats trying to help military families and save their loved ones and Republicans content to "stay the course."