In Nebraska, Senator Chuck Hagel spent time this past week speaking to constituents — and America’s circumstances in Iraq dominated his meetings.
Here is a clip from a CNN report:
But he said the United States risks losing more public support for the conflict amid a rising cost in blood and money.
“The casualties we’re taking, the billion dollars a week we’re putting in there, the kind of commitment we’ve got — we’re not going to be able to sustain it,” he said.
Iraq and Vietnam still have more differences than similarities, he said, but “there is a parallel emerging.”
“The longer we stay in Iraq, the more similarities will start to develop, meaning essentially that we are getting more and more bogged down, taking more and more casualties, more and more heated dissension and debate in the United States,” Hagel said.
Hagel also did not back away from comments he made in June to U.S. News & World Report that “the White House is completely disconnected from reality” and “the reality is that we’re losing in Iraq.”
“It gives me no great pleasure to have said that and to say that now,” he said Thursday.
He said the U.S. death toll has continued to rise “at a very significant rate — more dead, more wounded, less electricity in Iraq, less oil being pumped in Iraq, more insurgent attacks, more insurgents coming across the border, more corruption in the government.”
Hagel also challenged Vice President Cheney’s assessment:
Hagel mocked Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion in June that the insurgency in Iraq was in its “last throes,” saying the U.S. death toll has risen amid insurgent attacks.
“Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we’re taking,” the Nebraskan told CNN.
“If that’s winning, then he’s got a different definition of winning than I do.”
On Thursday, Cheney told a veterans group that “Iraq is a critical front in the war on terror, and victory there is critical to the future security of the U.S.”
While I don’t have the link, a friend who watches polls religiously reported to me last night that because of the war, President Bush’s favorability rating has fallen to 38% in Kentucky.
In most countries of the world, that would be a high rating for a president or prime minister — but not here.
— Steve Clemons