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As Republican leaders try to deepen the divide generated by the Iraq war, even some Republicans are starting to ask more questions about the Bush administration’s intentions in the increasingly controversial conflict.
Writes Jonahan Weisman in The Washington Post:
A memo from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) urged House Republican members Tuesday to make the debate "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats." After Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was booed this week by liberal activists for her failure to resolutely oppose the war, Republicans hope to present a united front that highlights the fractures in the Democratic Party.
"As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democratic Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world," Boehner wrote.
But the day-long debate will also give voice to some GOP lawmakers’ misgivings about Bush administration policy — and years of congressional support for it — in an election year in which Iraq will be a central issue. The news of recent days has buoyed Republican spirits, but the party is still saddled with a war that remains deeply unpopular and is imperiling its continued control of Congress. Some House Republicans have complained that their party has taken flight from its responsibility to debate and oversee administration policy.
"I can’t help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don’t have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there’s a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn’t act like there’s a war going on. If you’re raising money to keep the majority, if you’re thinking about gay marriage, if you’re doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who’s about ready to drive over a land mine?"