Lawmakers with family serving in Iraq

The USA Today published a piece today about members of Congress who have loved ones serving in Iraq:

At least nine members of Congress have sons or daughters who have served in Iraq, according to the U.S. Senate Library. A tenth, Sen. John McCain, faces the possibility that his youngest son, Jimmy, will go there this year.

Like other Americans in similar situations, the lawmakers are torn by powerful emotions. “We worried every day, but that did not take away from our pride,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., whose stepson, Douglas Lehtinen and his wife, Lindsey, are Marine fighter pilots. They ended an eight-month tour of duty in Iraq last year; Lindsey Lehtinen may be headed back there this year, Ros-Lehtinen said.

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many lawmakers have had relatives in Iraq because some don’t want to talk about it. In part it’s because they don’t want to appear to be seeking special treatment; in part it’s out of security concerns. “When Perry was actually in Fallujah, I didn’t want to mention the location to make him some sort of higher-value target,” Akin said.

The number of lawmakers with relatives involved in the war is probably lower than in past conflicts, congressional historians say, in part because there are fewer soldiers involved. Compared with Vietnam, Korea and World War II, “this is a fairly limited conflict,” said Ray Smock, director of the Robert C. Byrd legislative resource center at Shepherd University.

Members of Congress with Iraq veterans in the family are as divided as the rest of the country over the war. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., cited his niece and nephew, who both enlisted in the Marines, in a speech where he expressed misgivings about the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Baucus and Webb are also against it.

Others say they will support the Bush plan — with varying degrees of enthusiasm. “I’m a reluctant supporter,” said Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo. The congressman’s brother-in-law, Ryan Howell, is an Army major. Howell is back in the USA, and Hulshof said their talks over the family dinner table helped persuade him to back the Bush plan as a “last-ditch effort” to stabilize Iraq.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., whose son Sam is scheduled to return to Iraq for his second tour of duty this spring as the head of a Marine scout sniper platoon, is less equivocal. Bond said his son has convinced him that “pulling out early downgrades and denigrates the sacrifices that we’ve made.”

Rep. Charlie Rangel back in December 2006, in response to questions about his intentions to introduce a bill that would advocate reinstating the draft, said:

Rangel, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, also said he did not think the United States would have invaded Iraq if the children of members of Congress were sent to fight.

Rangel has repeatedly made such assertions, but is apparently too lazy to find out for himself that at least nine members of Congress (and probably more) DO have loved ones in harms way in Iraq, and the Republicans mentioned in the USA Today piece do support the mission even with that in mind. I’m sure this article will have no effect on his poorly-informed belief that members of Congress who support the war must not have loved ones in harms way anymore than it will stop the BS “chickenhawk” arguments made by people who believe that if you don’t have a loved one serving in combat then you have no business advocating war to begin with.

Hat tip: Jules Crittenden

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