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Preaching to the Chorus

The displeased Sen. Byrd:
The displeased Sen. Byrd: "All of this for a war -- a war! a war!" (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Democrats' anger has built for weeks over their failure to end the war in Iraq. When Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday, the lid came off.

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Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, didn't just harangue the two men. He did so in triplicate.

"Funding for the war in Iraq will exceed 600 billion -- billion! billion! -- dollars!" the 89-year-old lawmaker bellowed, pointing his finger wildly while Gates picked at his cuticles.

"All of this for a war -- a war! a war! -- that General Petraeus, two weeks ago, could not say had made Americans safer!"

"A long-term presence could cost well in excess of 2 trillion -- 2 trillion! Yes, you heard me -- 2 trillion!"

Byrd's angry theatrics made for a performance reminiscent of Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman." And Byrd did Pacino one better: He invited the audience in the room to join him in heckling the witnesses, creating a responsive Greek chorus.

Byrd: "Are we really seeking progress toward a stable, secure Iraq?"

Chorus: "No!"

Byrd: "Is our continuing occupation encouraging the Iraqi people to step up?"

Chorus: "No!"

Byrd: "Are Iraq's leaders doing the hard work necessary?"

Chorus: "No!"


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