McConnell Stays Mum on Bush Claim

Nov 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Critics already were blasting U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for saying the Republican Party's top goal during the next two years should be to ensure President Obama doesn't win a second term. But a recent revelation has some people stating McConnell is guilty of crass politicking and hypocrisy involving American troops.—-

In his new memoir, Decision Points, President George W. Bush wrote that McConnell privately urged him in September 2006 to withdraw some troops from Iraq in order to improve the GOP's chances in that year's midterm elections. At the same time, McConnell publicly berated Democrats for seeking a troop reduction, adding their request endangered U.S. troops.

Replying to a Democratic letter asking Bush to change his Iraq policy, McConnell said, ""Whether they call it 'redeployment' or 'phased withdrawal,' the effect is the same: We would leave Americans more vulnerable and Iraqis at the mercy of al-Qaeda, a terrorist group whose aim — toward Iraqis and Americans — is clear."

According to Bush's book:

"In September 2006, with the midterm elections approaching, my friend Mitch McConnell came to the Oval Office. The senior senator from Kentucky and Republican whip had asked to see me alone. Mitch has a sharp political nose, and he smelled trouble. 

'Mr. President,' he said, 'your unpopularity is going to cost us control of the Congress' ...

'Well, Mitch,' I asked, 'what do you want me to do about it?' 'Mr. President,' he said, 'bring some troops home from Iraq.'"

Instead, Bush decided for a troop escalation, commonly known as "the surge." Republicans did lose control of Congress in that November's elections.

All of which prompted The Louisville Courier-Journal today to publish an editorial, entitled "McConnell's True Colors," asking McConnell for answers on the troubling matter.

The editorial stated, "Unless he is prepared to call a former president of his own party a liar, Mr. McConnell has a choice. He can admit that he did not actually believe the Iraq mission was vital to American security, regardless of what he said at the time. Or he can explain why the fortunes of the Republican Party are of greater importance than the safety of the United States."

So far, McConnell is remaining mum.

We wonder if The Courier-Journal's sister Gannett newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, also will hold McConnell to account?