WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday that President Bush failed “miserably” at diplomacy, forcing the United States to go to war with Iraq.
Daschle’s comments were denounced by Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot as “divisive and brazen political posturing.”
Daschle, of South Dakota, supported a congressional resolution last year authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, but he has criticized the president for failing to win the support of the U.N. Security Council.
“I’m saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war,” Daschle said in a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn’t create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.”
Racicot said “it is disheartening and shameful for Senator Daschle, who has previously advocated and authorized the use of force in Iraq, to now blame America first.”
At the White House, Bush briefed about a dozen top members of the House and Senate before his speech. Vice President Dick Cheney continued the briefing after the president left to prepare for his remarks.
There was no talk of how much the war will cost, but White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Cheney promised a supplemental appropriations request would be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as final costs were estimated.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he hoped that after hearing Bush’s speech, “the Congress – Democrats and Republicans – will close ranks behind the president and our foreign policy will leave the shore with one voice.”
Many Democratic lawmakers yesterday lamented Bush’s failure to win a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, but said now is the time to unite as war appears inevitable.
“Those of us who have questioned the administration’s approach, including this senator, will now be rallying behind the men and women of our armed forces to give them the full support that they deserve as it now seems certain we will soon be at war,” Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said on the Senate floor.
Levin and other Democrats said the lack of U.N. support could result in less international assistance in the fight against terrorism, trigger more terrorist attacks and make it more difficult to win international contributions for rebuilding Iraq after a war. “The path to a safer world and a more secure America has rarely come from a go it alone approach,” Levin said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, said U.N. Security Council members are partially to blame for world division because they did not enforce the resolution calling on Saddam to disarm.