Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly criticized the Democrats who called for troop reductions in Iraq in September 2006–the same month he privately appealed to President Bush for such reductions. Further, while the Democrats were motivated by honest misgivings about the war, McConnell's position was based on purely political considerations: the electoral prospects of the Republicans. McConnell's hypocrisy and lack of principle were revealed in George W. Bush's "Decision Points"–and criticized in an editorial in the Courier-Journal, "McConnell's True Colors":
In his new memoir, Decision Points, the former president tells of a meeting he held in September 2006 with Mr. McConnell, then the Republican whip in the Senate. The occupation of Iraq was going horribly, American and Iraqi casualties were rising sharply, costs had mushroomed into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and Iraq was teetering on the brink of full-scale sectarian civil war. Mr. McConnell was concerned, and he gave the president his advice.
But why was he concerned? It wasn't because of bloodshed, destruction, a hemorrhaging budget or a slide toward disaster. He was fearful that the morass in Iraq would cause the Republican Party to take a beating in the approaching mid-term elections. And what was his advice? He urged the president to “bring some troops home from Iraq” to lessen the political risks, Mr. Bush writes.
This incident, which Sen. McConnell's office has not denied, shines brightly on the contemptible hypocrisy and obsessive partisanship that have come to mark the senator's time in office.
At the time that Sen. McConnell was privately advising Mr. Bush to reduce troop levels in Iraq, he was elsewhere excoriating congressional Democrats who had urged the same thing. “The Democrat[ic] leadership finally agrees on something — unfortunately it's retreat,” Sen. McConnell had said in a statement on Sept. 5, 2006, about a Democratic letter to Mr. Bush appealing for cuts in troop levels. Sen. McConnell, who publicly was a stout defender of the war and Mr. Bush's conduct of the conflict, accused the Democrats of advocating a position that would endanger Americans and leave Iraqis at the mercy of al-Qaida.
Unless he is prepared to call a former president of his own party a liar, Mr. McConnell has a choice. He can admit that he did not actually believe the Iraq mission was vital to American security, regardless of what he said at the time. Or he can explain why the fortunes of the Republican Party are of greater importance than the safety of the United States.