From Tampa to Toledo, Amer­i­cans are at odds on what to do next in Iraq

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Sean Lengell and Eric Pfeif­fer

Jean­nie Robin­son, a bar­tender at the Hub in down­town Tampa, Fla., hadn’t fin­ished pour­ing the first drink of the day shortly af­ter open­ing at 10 a.m. on May 2 be­fore a hand­ful of reg­u­lars were grip­ing about Pres­i­dent Bush’s han­dling of the Iraq war.

“Ninety-nine per­cent of the peo­ple who come in here want the U.S. out of Iraq — in­clud­ing me,” said Ms. Robin­son, who has worked at the Tampa wa­ter­ing hole for 20 years. “Peo­ple boo here when they show Bush on TV.”

So she said she was dis­ap­pointed but not sur­prised when Mr. Bush on May 1 ve­toed a Demo­cratic-crafted emer­gency spend­ing bill for the war that in­cluded a time­line for with­draw­ing troops as soon as July.

“I’m not anti-Repub­li­can, but there’s been enough killing,” she said.

A ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans share Ms. Robin­son’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion about the war, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral polls re­leased in re­cent days. Yet the pub­lic re­mains split on how best to leave Iraq.

A Ras­mussen Re­ports poll last month found that 52 per­cent of Amer­i­cans did not want Pres­i­dent Bush to veto the Iraq bill that con­tained a timetable for with­drawal. Thirty-five per­cent said they sup­ported a pres­i­den­tial veto.

Mean­while, a Gallup poll re­leased two weeks ago found 57 per­cent of re­spon­dents fa­vored a timetable for with­drawal from Iraq, with only 39 per­cent say­ing troops should re­main in the coun­try, “as long as nec­es­sary.” And an NBC/Wall Street Jour­nal poll found 56 per­cent of re­spon­dents sup­port­ing the con­gres­sional dead­line for with­drawal, with 37 per­cent op­posed.

At the Metro Cof­fee House in Au­gusta, Ga., on May 2, few cus­tomers spoke openly of the Iraq war, man­ager Josh Pierce said. But with the Army’s mas­sive Fort Gor­don com­plex only a few miles out­side town, he said the war, and how best to end it, is never far from peo­ple’s minds.

“I know some peo­ple who are about to go to the war, and they say, ‘Let’s just go and get it done,’ ” Mr. Pierce said. “I think we’ve got to be there, but at the same time a timetable [for with­drawal] would be nice. It has to be un­der­stood that we can’t be there for­ever.”

But Mr. Pierce says Mr. Bush was cor­rect in ve­to­ing the emer­gency spend­ing bill.

“A timetable has to be long — like two or three years,” he said. “If we pull out now, it’s go­ing to turn into some­thing bad. It’ll be all-out civil war.”

Salt Lake City res­i­dent Christa Ekker said Mr. Bush’s veto shows stub­born­ness and an in­abil­ity to com­pro­mise.

“The war is a dis­as­ter and it is in his — and only his — power to do some­thing about it and take care of our troops,” she said. “I know we can’t cut and run, but it is past time to cut our losses and make an ef­fort to get out of there.”

But set­ting timeta­bles in any war is ut­terly im­prac­ti­cal, said Robert Jicha, who works at Real Chili, a down­town Mil­wau­kee restau­rant.

“Set­ting a timetable would be ridicu­lous — you don’t now how the war will be go­ing in the fu­ture,” he said. “This is some­thing we need to fight on.”

Mr. Jicha said he ap­proves of Mr. Bush’s han­dling of the war, adding that if Sen. John Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, had won the pres­i­dency in 2004 that Iraq “would’ve fallen apart.”

Mr. Jicha, 18, added he has con­sid­ered join­ing the Marines be­cause “I be­lieve in the war so much.”

John Croghan, a pa­tron of Ben­der’s Tav­ern in Den­ver, said he wasn’t sur­prised by the veto.

“We should or­ga­nize a with­drawal plan but not one that throws Iraq, with broader im­pli­ca­tions in that re­gion, into chaos,” he said. “The Democrats know that if they are go­ing to take the pres­i­dency, they need to be for­ward think­ing.”

Oliver Ruff, a pa­tron of Jake’s Sa­loon in Toledo, Ohio, said he’s frus­trated by peo­ple’s quick judg­ment of oth­ers based on their views of the war.

“I think it would be a ma­jor step for­ward if ex­press­ing sup­port for the war didn’t au­to­mat­i­cally make you a pawn of the mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex, and if ex­press­ing dis­ap­proval didn’t mean you hate free­dom,” he said.

As­so­ci­ated Press

War pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side City Hall in Philadel­phia on May 2. But not ev­ery­one needed a sign and a bull­horn to have an opin­ion on the pres­i­dent’s veto of time­line for with­drawal from Iraq.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.