I am intrepid. I have to be. As House Majority Leader I, John Boehner, must prove no one in the world is remotely as tough and resolute as pro-war Republicans. Until recently all Republicans wanted war. That solidarity both gratified and emboldened us to try to remake the world in our image. Now our great task is imperiled not merely by Democrats and other liberals but even a handful from my sacred party who are thinking independently and concluding that the troop trickle in Iraq is a failure and should be redressed by prompt withdrawal of some of our military personnel. I recently called such Republicans wimps.
That’s what they are. Check the conservative blogs. You’ll see I’m right. Patriots are writing in that the wimps are also traitors and worse. And Democrats are already targeting them for electoral defeat next year. Instead of sacrificing their political careers to maintain U.S. military operations in Iraq, these Republicans are behaving as our opponents and “sheepishly dismissing the challenges of a post 9/11 world.”
Our task is unequivocal: we must stay and support the Iraqis until their security forces are ready, whether that process takes five, 10, or even 100 years. If we do less, we will die. I understand that. Like President Bush and Vice President Cheney, I have a profound feel for security issues. I signed up for the navy in 1968 and doubtless would have killed many communist Vietnamese – who, like the Iraqis, were trying to conquer the world – but I had to leave the armed forces after two months training because I had a bad back. Can you imagine? Some guys called me a wimp.
The people in my Ohio district between Dayton and Cincinnati know what I’m really like, and they’ve elected me nine times. They love it when I stand up for what I believe. On the august floor of the House of Representatives, in 1995, I boldly strode back and forth, delivering “campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists” while my colleagues were considering “how to vote on tobacco subsidies.” To do that, you’ve got to have balls.