HH: Joined now by my favorite Senator and yours, Jon Kyl of the great state of Arizona. Senator Kyl, a great opportunity to speak with you today.
JK: Well thanks, Hugh. Very good to be with you and your listeners, and thank you.
HH: Well, I’m giving a hard time to some of your Republican colleagues today, some friends of mine, because A) I think you’ve got to filibuster the Biden and the Warner resolutions, and B) I can’t imagine a Republican voting for them, Senator Kyl. You’re in the leadership. Will they be filibustered?
JK: I don’t think they’ll need to be filibustered. If worst comes to worst, obviously, they will be. But I think there is a recognition that any resolution is going to require sixty votes to pass, in other words, to be able to mount a filibuster. And typically, in these situations, in order to expedite the Senate’s business, what we do is simply set a sixty vote threshold, and any of the amendments that are going to be brought forward, or resolutions, will simply have to meet the sixty vote threshold by unanimous consent agreement. Hopefully, that’s what we will be able to enter into.
HH: And have you had indications that that will in fact happen, that none of these resolutions will see the light of day?
JK: Well, they’ll see the light of day, in that they will be offered. Presumably, the Biden resolution will be offered, and will not get the sixty votes. The Warner resolution probably will be offered. Senator Warner hasn’t said for sure, but assuming that it is offered, we hope that it will not get sixty votes. And there probably will be some other resolutions, and I doubt that any of them would get sixty votes. So at the end of the day, I mean unless there’s a resolution that’s drafted that doesn’t say a whole lot, and that therefore, everybody can agree with, chances are none of them will get the sixty votes that would be required to pass. And I think that’s a good thing, because I think the worst thing we could do right now is to send a message that we don’t have confidence in General Petraeus, in his troops, and in the decisions that are being made by the Commander-In-Chief right now.
HH: Now Senator Kyl, yesterday, General Petraeus answered a question that said you know, if you pass any of these resolutions, you are encouraging the enemy. I understand that to mean giving the enemy courage and will to fight on, and I understand that to mean more courage, more will, means more dead Americans. Is there any other reasonable way to interpret his remarks?
JK: No, I believe that’s exactly what he was saying, and what he was saying is the enemy is watching us, and this will reflect in their eyes, our will to prevail. And if they see that will flagging, it’s simply a signal to them to just keep on doing what they’re doing, and eventually, they’ll prevail. I think the way he put it was, it was sort of a Clausewitzian expression, that the whole point of war is to break your enemy’s will. And he said what we have to be doing in our activities is to break the enemy’s will to fight. You can do that with the kind of great military folks that we have over there, if the enemy also knows that we mean business over here, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to beat them. But if you’re undercutting what the military’s doing, then you’re not going to break their will or their spirit, and that’s what this is all about.
HH: Earlier in the week, and last week, some of your Republican colleagues indicated they might be open to a “compromise resolution.” I’ll have Senator Coleman on next hour. I’m hoping he’s recanting that, and recognizing after what General Petraeus said, you just can’t do that. I don’t know. Have you had conversations with these members about the genuine danger to Americans of doing this?
JK: I think you need to put my colleagues into about three different categories. Of course, you have the partisans who in reality don’t really care what message they send, because they mostly want to hurt the President, to punish the President. You have Republican colleagues who don’t want to do that, but want to express a point of view that distinguishes them from the President. Many of my Republican colleagues don’t like something in this new strategy, and they want to express that, so they can tell that to their constituents back home, who are telling them that they don’t like it. Well, that’s different from sending a signal of disapproval, and there may well be in these, in some of these resolutions…and ask Senator Coleman about this…a way for him and others to express some disagreement with what’s being done, but to do so in a way that is not destructive, for one thing, that doesn’t get sixty votes, and for another, it does matter to some extent how you say it. And then of course, there are those of use who believe that resolutions that are not binding and express the sense of the Senate can only do harm, can virtually do no good, and that it’s better to stay away from them, and if you don’t like what the President’s doing, vote to cut off the funds. We don’t think that there is…in fact, I know there’s not the support for that. And if you can’t do that, then give it a chance. And I think the recent polls from today, the day after the speech the President gave last night, reflect the fact that now, the majority of Americans are willing to give this new strategy a chance.
HH: Senator Kyl, a number of us in the blogosphere and in new media have begun a website, www.thenrscpledge.com, in which we simply and bluntly state, Anyone who supports other than a victory resolution will not get any support or time from us. And that includes great Republicans, because…well, I want to play for you a bit from Tony Snow earlier today, and it’s because of the Petraeus interaction. Here’s an interview I had with Tony Snow just minutes ago.
HH: I am breaking with some longtime friends over this, and it’s very difficult, and I’m getting lots of phone calls from people, because I think the war trumps party. Do you agree with that, Tony Snow?
TS: I think the war, yeah, it does trump party.
HH: Senator Kyl, do your colleagues understand how angry the base will be, and how angry even independents and Democrats who favor victory will be, if they undercut the troops and General Petraeus?
JK: I think my colleagues have their ears to the ground, and my guess is that those who want to express some disagreement with the President, but short of being destructive, believe that they are not just reflecting their own view, but also that of a lot of their constituents. So I don’t necessarily think it’s an argument to dissuade them, that the Republican base is going to be really mad at them. I think most of them feel that they’re with their constituents if they express some displeasure. But they also don’t want to hurt the President, many of them, most of the Republicans, and therefore, I think they’re willing to try to find a way to do it that gives them the ability to say this is what I said, but not in a way that has any negative effect.
HH: But Senator Kyl, again, I want to try and communicate this as much as I can, because I know you’re in the leadership. I just now got an e-mail from Frank Martin who blogs at VariFrank. It says, “I have never, ever seen any issue that has made me angrier than the gutter-level yellow cowardice that is being displayed by our party in the Congress. I would rather see the Whig Party reform than stand with Warner, or as the Spartans would say, with your shield, or on it. Fight the enemy, support the troops, back the President. There can be no end save victory.” That is not a marginal opinion, Senator. I mean…
JK: No, no. Listen, that’s an opinion that I agree with, except for one thing. He’s not being quite discriminating enough when he says ‘the party.’ The party doesn’t have a position negative, you know, contrary to the President’s position here. We, as I told you earlier, I don’t believe that Republicans in the Senate are going to allow any resolution that criticizes the President to pass.
HH: Senator, very quickly, I hate to interrupt you. Will the leadership discipline Republicans who hurt us on this, and sign on with Warner?
JK: We will work with our colleagues to ensure that no negative resolution gets sixty votes.
HH: Any resolution, Senator?
JK: No negative resolutions.
HH: Not…negative’s different, Senator Kyl.
JK: Well, I mean, if we can get a positive one, of course…
HH: Oh, if you can get a victory resolution, I’m with you.
JK: Yeah. I mean, if we can get that, I’m all for it.
HH: If you vote for it, I’ll trust it.
JK: Oh, sure.
JK: You got it. If I vote for it, okay, you know that it’s very positive.
HH: Yes, I do. And Senator Kyl, that’s why we appreciate you in the leadership, and thanks for spending time with us today, and please tell your colleagues they have fundamentally, those who are leaning the wrong way, fundamentally misjudged this one.
JK: You got it. Thank you, Hugh.
HH: I appreciate it, Senator.
End of interview.