Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps,’ and ‘killing fields.’
â€” President Bush in Aug. 22 speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City.
The only relevant analogy of Vietnam to Iraq is this: In Iraq, just as we did in Vietnam, we are clinging to a central government that does not and will not enjoy the support of the people. Unless the president acts on that lesson from history and works toward a federal solution in Iraq, there is no prospect that when we leave, we will leave anything stable behind. In fact, the president’s policies are pushing us toward another Saigon moment â€” with helicopters fleeing the roof of our embassy â€” which he says he wants to avoid. Al Qaeda in Iraq didn’t exist before we invaded. It is a Bush fulfilling prophecy.
â€” Presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticizing the president’s speech, saying the president “continues to play the American people for fools.”
It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president. We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn’t work our will. What is Bush suggesting? That we didn’t fight hard enough, stay long enough? That’s nonsense. It’s a distortion. We’ve been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It’s a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.
â€” Historian Robert Dallek, commenting on the president’s speech.
We assess, to the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces, that Iraq’s security will continue to improve modestly during the next 6 – 12 months, but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance.
â€” excerpt from the National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus judgment of the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies, released Aug. 23.
[T]he President reiterated our willingness to help Mexico should Mexico need assistance â€” and again, clearly responding to what the Mexicans see as their needs. We want to be in a position to help them as appropriate and as best we can should [Hurricane] Dean hit any part of Mexico.
â€” Dan Fisk, senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council, during an Aug. 22 press briefing on President Bush’s bilateral meetings with Mexico and Canada.
[T]his is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection â€” or at least amelioration â€” against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.
â€” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Sept. 5, 2005, one week after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
The New Orleans Index, a look at several indicators that show how the city and region are rebounding from the 2005 disaster, shows the city has regained 66% of its pre-Katrina population as of June 2007. … “Crime remains unacceptably high in the city, eliciting real and legitimate concerns from residents and business owners,” the report states. Essential criminal justice buildings, including police stations, still are in need of repair. Two police stations and police headquarters continue to operate from trailers supplied by FEMA. … Returning basic services to parts of the city, including schools, child care and city buses, has been slow because of the process involved in obtaining federal funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency … Only 45% of the city’s schools are open, according to the report compiled by the Washington-based Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a non-profit group. Of the 128 public schools in Orleans Parish, 58 have reopened as of May. Another 25 schools are scheduled to reopen by fall, but many essential repairs to those schools have not been completed.
â€” from an Aug. 12, 2007, USAToday story about a report on the status of New Orleans compiled by the Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a non-profit group.
I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.
â€” former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during his 1994 bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose. This choice is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s. The truth is, no candidate in the governor’s race in either party would deny women abortion rights. So let’s end this argument that does not exist and stop the cynical, divisive attacks made only for political gain.
â€” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in answer to a NARAL Pro-Choice America questionnaire during his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor.
I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
â€” excerpt from Boston Globe commentary written in 2005 by former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
And it struck me very powerfully at that point, that the Roe v. Wade approach has so cheapened the value of human life that someone could think it’s not a moral issue to destroy embryos that have been created solely for the purpose of research, and I said to my chief of staff, and that’s been 2 1/2 years ago, I said to her, ‘I want to make it very clear that I’m pro-life.’
â€” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Feb. 7, 2007, noting that “his moment of illumination about the immorality of abortion came two years ago during a meeting with an embryonic stem cell researcher.”
I do support the Republican platform, and I do support that being part of the Republican platform, and I’m pro-life.
â€” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an Aug. 7 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in which Romney said he’d support a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn.
We must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. … We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion.
â€” excerpt from the 2004 Republican Party platform. [emphasis added]
My view is that the Supreme Court has made an error in saying at the national level one size fits all for the whole nation. Instead, I would let states make their choices. … I’d let states make their own decision in this regard. My view, of course, is I’m a pro-life individual. That’s the position I support. But, I’d let states have this choice rather than let the federal government have it.
â€” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an Aug. 21 televised interview with Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston.
Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders. Legal immigration is great. But illegal immigration, that we’ve got to end. And amnesty is not the way to do it.
â€” Text of a new radio ad broadcast Aug. 21 in Iowa and New Hampshire for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, highlighting his “effort to use the Massachusetts state police to enforce immigration laws while he served as governor,” which prompted opponents to point out that Massachusetts had three “sanctuary cities” while he served as governor.
We are supposed to be the party of the people. John, he’s not taking any lobbyist money, not just now, but for the rest of the campaign.
â€” Elizabeth Edwards speaking on Aug. 19 at the Story County Democrats’ Big Band Swing Fling in Nevada, Iowa, about the fundraising practices of her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards, whose campaign has accepted $13,500 from lobbyists compared with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who leads all presidential candidates with $406,300 from lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Edwards has accepted $6,545,542 from lawyers and law firms, more than any other presidential candidate.
Quotabull is a weekly Thursday feature of Scholars & Rogues.