Posted 12:21 pm
I disagree with him on almost every political issue I can think of, but Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) seems to have learned a great deal over the last few years, particularly when it comes to the war in Iraq.
Jones, you may recall, came up with the idea of changing the name of “french fries” to “freedom fries” in the House dining hall in 2003. Asked why the move was necessary, Jones said, “This isn’t a political or publicity stunt…. It’s a gesture just to say to the French, ‘Up yours!’” Classy.
That was then. By May 2003, Jones was publicly criticizing the war, saying we invaded Iraq “with no justification.” He lined the hallway outside his office with “the faces of the fallen” and ultimately suggested that lawmakers may have been “given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration.” Now, Jones is as active an opponent of the president’s policy in Iraq as any Democrat on the Hill.
And he’s paying a price for being right.
House Armed Services ranking member Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has disciplined one of his party’s most vocal anti-war members by denying him a minority leadership position on the powerful defense committee.
Hunter, a loyal supporter of President Bush and an outspoken hawk on the Iraq war, recently told Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., that he would be passed over for the Readiness Subcommittee ranking member slot because of his stance on the war, Jones said in an interview Thursday. […]
“We have to pay a price, from time to time,” Jones said of Hunter’s decision.
Jones was one of seven House Republicans to send Bush a letter this week, urging him not to escalate the U.S. presence in Iraq. “This goes all the way back to four years ago, when the president told us we had to go to war over weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said. “I don’t think the president is listening.”
And neither, apparently, are House GOP leaders.
To his credit, Jones has no regrets.
In 2005, Jones teamed up with Democratic Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii to sponsor the first resolution calling on the administration to set a date for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by October 2006.
“Clearly we are giving Iraqis every reasonable chance for a democracy, but at some time in the near future, the ultimate fate of Iraq will, and should, rest in the hands of the Iraqis,” Jones said at the time, advancing an argument now being made by virtually all mainstream Democrats in Congress.
Last year, Jones was one of five GOP lawmakers to vote “present” for a GOP resolution calling for victory in the war on terror and reaffirming the U.S. commitment to prevailing in Iraq.
Jones said he will not be discouraged from opposing the war.
I wish I could say that I’m surprised Jones is being punished for being right about the war, but House Republicans are still House Republicans.
For what it’s worth, House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a strong advocate of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, said Jones’ treatment was “rotten,” and that he would “welcome” Jones into the Democratic caucus if the conservative lawmaker wanted to switch parties.