GOP Rep. Defends Obama On Afghanistan, Blasts Bush Administration

November 18, 2009 1:30 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) isn't the most likely candidate to rush to President Obama's defense, but he's bucking his party on the war in Afghanistan.

To hear most Republicans tell it, President Obama is "dithering" on what should be an easy decision to order a surge of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan. However, one of the most conservative members of Congress yesterday voiced support for the president's concerted effort to get the strategy right.   

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) denies climate change, supports torture, and believes that President Obama has a "Marxist background." So he's not the likeliest candidate to rush to Obama's defense. But, speaking on the House floor last night, Rohrabacher said that the president is right not make any "brash" decisions:

ROHRABACHER: President Obama will soon make a decision that will chart the course for America's involvement in Afghanistan for years to come.  I personally am not upset that it has taken President Obama this long to determine his response to General McChrystal's request for an additional 35,000 U.S. combat troops to be sent to Afghanistan.  This is a monumental decision [...]

This is not the time for business as usual nor is it time for brash decision making.  A decision to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan will cause money -- lots of it -- and it will cost lives.   

Rohrabacher spoke for nearly an hour, bucking his party's stance on the war.  According to the congressman, the GOP's favored strategy won't work and will cost too much.  "The introduction of more U.S. combat units into Afghanistan will be counterproductive and perhaps disastrous," he said.  

At one point, Rohrabacher blasted the Bush administration's handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He also said that while he voted for the surge in Iraq, "we obviously used the wrong strategy." "The competence of the last administration in carrying out that war and building a peace was abysmal," he added. 

On multiple occasions, Rohrabacher criticized -- though not by name -- Republicans who are pushing "easy answers" that won't solve the problem.  He also became emotional while talking about our responsibility to the troops.  "Every one of those people willing to put their lives on the line, they are heroes," he said.  "We owe them our best judgment, not just an easy answer of sending more military people into a conflict."

Rohrabacher deserves a lot of credit for putting his conscience over partisan politics.  Of course, it probably won't be long before he's under attack from the right for not being serious about our national defense.     

Watch a few highlights from the speech: