Chaffetz flip-flop-flips against Afghanistan war | Buzz Blog

Chaffetz flip-flop-flips against Afghanistan war

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz broke ranks with his party yesterday by voting against supplemental funding of the Afghanistan war, a move some have characterized as unwavering criticism of that conflict.--- Regular Salt Blog readers will remember, however, that the last time Chaffetz had an opportunity to vote regarding that war, he voted in favor of it.

He's saying very interesting things about this most recent vote. To the Washington Post

On the eve of the vote, Chaffetz called families of the three men from his district who have died in Afghanistan since he was elected and told them he was considering opposing the funding. "This was one of the toughest votes I've had in Congress," Chaffetz said. "So I asked their opinion. And to a T, they all agreed with me."

To Antiwar.com:

“I don’t believe 100,000 troops on the ground is going to make the situation better,” Chaffetz, 43, told Antiwar.com last week. “The hesitancy from a lot of Republicans is they don’t want to be seen as cut and run, or soft on the defense issue. But I think it’s a very solid conservative viewpoint.”

Many people remember Chaffetz criticizing the Afghanistan war, so this might seem entirely consistent.  Glen Warchol termed him "Utah's peacenik," although that may have been snark. Chaffetz still talks about possible military intervention in Iran, so peacenik isn't quite right. But in terms of just Afghanistan, you decide whether he's been consistent:

  • Nov. 30, 2009: Chaffetz famously says, "Mr. President, it is time to bring our troops home." At the time, no Utahn of such stature had said anything so categorically opposed to the war in Afghanistan. It was a memorable mini-earthquake in political terms, at least for Utah.
  • March 10, 2010: Chaffetz votes against a resolution demanding a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Hardly anyone in Utah news media reported--was I the only one?--this seeming flip-flop. In an interview, Chaffetz, naturally, said his vote was not a flip-flop, but that particular resolution "micromanaged" the war, which he didn't feel was the proper role of Congress.
  • July 27, 2010: Apparently favoring pulling funding outright rather than "micromanaging" by providing funding with strings attached, Chaffetz votes against supplemental Afghanistan war spending.

What's going on here is that it's really tough to be just one of 12 Republicans to vote against war. Back in March, Chaffetz would have been only the sixth Republican to join ranks with the likes of Ron Paul, R-Texas, a rare anti-war stalwart on the conservative side of the aisle.

Frankly, I don't buy that he opposed the March resolution because it "micromanaged" anything. Way before the vote, everyone knew that it wouldn't pass, making its real-world impacts just useless details. A vote for or against was only going to have impact symbolically. Same deal with yesterday's vote, which also failed miserably. 

So, maybe Chaffetz just feels safer being 1 of 12 rather than 1 of 6? I don't know. I'd like to think City Weekly awarding him the "Best War Hypocrite" award in April had something to do with his vote yesterday.  We wrote:

We’d hoped Rep. Jason Chaffetz, media whore though he may be, could fashion himself into a contrarian, principled Republican. He now seems every bit as slimy and untrustworthy as the rest of Congress. In November, he said, “Mr. President, it’s time to bring our troops home” from Afghanistan, a war that has cost $3.6 billion per month and killed more than 1,000 American soldiers. Just three months later, he voted against a resolution that would direct the president to do exactly that. His pro-war vote came less than a week after attending the funeral of Carlos A. Aragon, 19, of Orem, and just before attending the funeral of Nigel K. Olsen, 21, of Salem, both of whom died in Afghanistan.

But something tells me the soldiers' families had more impact on him than our weekly rag. Actually, it's probably families of soldiers he hasn't met yet that had the most impact. At the next fallen soldier's funeral, Chaffetz will have proof that he's trying to end the war.

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