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POLITICS

When Chuck Grassley agreed with Ron Paul on Iraq

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,John Vaught LaBeaume
GrassleyRonPaul Just days before Caucus Night on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown," Iowa's Senior Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley slipped up, deviating slightly, if courteously, from the studious neutrality he's otherwise maintained this cycle, telling Chuck Todd that he just can't quite abide by Ron Paul's unwavering anti-war stance.  (Grassley's neutrality this year is in marked contrast previous elections, when Grassley hit the campaign trail with gusto, especially on behalf of his then-neighbor state Senate colleague Bob Dole in 1988 and 1996.)

Politico described Grassley's take on Paul's foreign policy as a "no-go" for him, too far out of the mainstream of the GOP to unite the party for November.


“I think that the next states are going to prove his foreign policy is not what this country wants,” Grassley said.  “I don’t think the United States can lead for world peace as we have for the last 50 years if we’re not actively engaged and trying to prevent war as opposed to fighting wars.” But there was a time when Grassley's own views were more in line with Paul's and decidedly out of step with his Republican Party.

In 1991, Grassley was one of only two Republicans in the Senate and five in the entire Congress to vote against authorizing the use of military force in the Persian Gulf. 

Grassley's stance wouldn't satasify Dr. Paul as he chose to defer to sanctions and diplomacy as the way to dislodge Saddam's troops from Kuwait, but he did declare while he "could never be accused of being a Cold War pacifist...I'm not ready to be a New World [Order] Warrior, either." 

But he did cite constitutional qualms with the process in terms that might elicit approval from Ron Paul, lamenting that Congress was "skirting the issue" of war powers.  "Perhaps this fulfills our constitutional duty, but I suspect it's a less-than-courageous way of" addressing it, voting to "authorize the use of force" instead declaring war formally.

Grassley came to his decision in discussions with Iowans, who voiced skepticism of this conflict.  He found himself sharing their hesitance in getting involved in a foreign war, and voted accordingly. 

Iowa has a history of non-interventionist, and even isolationist, sentiment.  It was in Des Moines in 1941 that "Lucky" Lindbergh delivered his notorious Anglophobic, anti-Semitic speech before a rabid America First audience, casting aspersions on supposedly nefarious forces he insisted were luring the U.S. into the "European war" (aka World War II).  And Grassley was first elected to Congress to fill the seat long-held by Taft Republican mainstay H.R. Gross, who even voted "present" on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

If Grassley seems to have grown more comfortable with an activist foreign policy, Tim Carney reports from Iowa that many average Hawkeyes - and even some Rick Santorum supporters - continue to hold a less than hawkish worldview.  This sentiment, even if it's a minority view in 2011, still seems to be shared by Iowans of diverse demographics and doesn't fall neatly along partisan lines.  We saw it eight years ago on the Democratic side with the initial excitement Howard Dean stirred up railing against the Iraq War and it's coming to the fore in a more conservative tint amongst Ron Paul's dedicated base again this year.
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