Monday, January 08, 2007

Kansas: Nancy Boyda's big day, or are we betrayed yet again?

By Diane Silver

As I rolled over this morning with the radio blasting in my ear and contemplated getting out of bed, I heard a report about newly minted Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.

ABC's Charles Gibson asked: Would she oppose the president's plan to escalate the war in Iraq?

Heck no, she said.

When I heard her words my stomach flopped, and I had two immediate thoughts:

1. Boyda's crazy.

2. We are in deep trouble.

Given my work schedule, this is the first minute I've had to blog about the issue. My in box certainly hasn't been silent on it, though.

As you have probably already seen on the blogosphere, a lot of people have been angered by Boyda's comments. Crooks and Liars has the clip. Here's the transcript of the interview.

Gibson: Would you vote in favor of money to support another 20,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq?

Boyda: I think we're going to vote to support what the commander in chief and head of military asks to do. At least, I am certainly going to vote to support it.

Gibson: If he wants the surge, he'll get it.

Boyda: Yes.… He is the commander in chief, Charlie. We don't get that choice. Congress doesn't make that decision.

Gibson: But the polls would indicate, and indeed, so many voters when they came out of the ballot box, said, "We're voting because we want something done about the war and we want the troops home."

Boyda: They should have thought about that before they voted for President Bush not once, but twice.

While I was busy working to pay the mortgage, angry emails were bouncing into my Hope & Politics inbox. One writer noted that he felt the same way now that he did when Boyda first declared her support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Frankly, her support of an amendment is one reason why I have been lukewarm on her in the past.) My correspondent wrote:

Are we betrayed again?

After thinking about it for the last day, my feeling is that it is too early to tell.

There are a couple of things about the interview that strike me. One is that the quotes are politically naive and incredibly unsophisticated. At the very least they insult the voters in her district (Hey you dolts, you voted for Bush twice!). I suspect her wording either came from, well, stupidity (jury is still out on that) or simple inexperience.

The second thing that strikes me about Boyda's quotes is that she is actually telling the truth about the power of Congress. That institution does not have the power to stop George W. Bush. It can't pass a law or a resolution that would tie his hands. All Congress can do is cut funding. A great idea, but would it put the troops in Iraq in greater danger?

I honestly don't know if Congress could tie the dollars up enough. Would any budget cut come out of the money destined to pay for a troop "surge," or would it come from spending needed to protect our troops who are already in Iraq?

The Lawrence Journal-World reported that Boyda's staff says that was exactly the point she was trying to make.

Her top staffer on Friday said Boyda’s remarks were “a sound byte that sounded out of place.”

“She was really referring to the options Congress has,” said Shanan Guinn, Boyda’s chief of staff, about the comments regarding voters. “Nancy has the utmost respect for all of her constituents whether they voted for her or not.”

Guinn also denied that the comments to support sending more troops represented a change in Boyda’s position on the war.

“Nancy has been very clear stressing to vote to support the troops on the ground,” she said. “I don’t think anybody expects her to pull support from the troops while they are in harm’s way.”

Boyda is in a difficult position because her district includes, not only conservative voters, but Fort Riley. Personally, I don't think it would be right for her to pull the budget rug out from under the troops already in country. It's not right politically and it's not right morally.

KC Buzz Blog calls this a "teapot tempest." While I believe that some in the blogosphere may be treating Boyda a little harshly, I also don't believe that this is a storm in a teapot.

Nothing will change until the people of this nation, Congress and members like Boyda stand up to President Bush. I would much rather have heard Boyda say that she is frustrated by what appears to be Congress' lack of power in this situation. I would much rather have heard her say that she will do everything she can to end the war as soon as possible.

Was Boyda tripped up by a twist of the tongue, a lack of experience or did she lie all through her campaign? I don't know, but I know that we will find out in the next two years, and her future depends on the answer.

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