In today's Columbus Dispatch, moderate Republican Senator George Voinovich--the same man who teared up while lamenting the inevitable appointment of John Bolton to head up the UN--ripped the Bush Administration's foreign policy and presidential leadership in no uncertain terms.
"Our public diplomacy is the worst that it's ever been in the history of this country."
The fact that I can fairly call George Voinovich a "moderate Republican" is as indicative of the contemporary place of the Republican Party as are Voinovich's criticisms of its leader. As the mayor of Cleveland and the governor of Ohio, Voinovich was an unquestionable conservative, and a popular one at that. He has been conspicuously quiet during the Bush Administration, however, except when rebuking the Administration.
It is certainly possible that this has all been political maneuvering in able to hold onto his seat next fall.
But the criticisms are no less accurate even if such were the case.
"We all got conned -- everybody," Voinovich says regarding the rationale the Bush Administration championed prior to the Iraqi War, a rationale that Voinovich helped to enable to voting to send us to war. Sadly, Voinovich is yet to apologize for his initial support.
But that doesn't mean that Voinovich remains in lockstep with the president. And herein lies the most newsworthy item of Voinovich's remarks: He believes it's time for us to leave Iraq.
"I would tell [Bush] on the war that I would try to extricate myself as gracefully as I possibly can."
Voinovich said that Bush must stress anew to the Iraqis that American support "is not open-ended. We've got to let these people know that we're on our way out, and it's going to be your baby."
The entire piece is couched in the news that Voinovich recently pleaded with Colin Powell to run for President in 2008. That misguided desire was articulated this way by Voinovich when he spoke to Powell:
"I said [to Powell], 'You have a moral obligation and I have a moral obligation, and this country is running out of time. And if you're running out of time, then I'm running out of time, and I think we have a moral obligation to try to leave a better legacy than it looks like we're going to leave to our kids.'"
This is all very true, Senator Voinovich. But if we're to leave a better legacy, we'll need you to do more than ask Colin Powell to run for President, and to criticize President Bush in a regional newspaper.
We thank you for your patriotic dissent. But we humbly request a little bit more than that to ensure that your assertion of a moral obligation proves sincere and true.