Tauscher talks turkey on Iraq, Gonzales, netroots

tauscher2.jpgI met with Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, this afternoon at her Walnut Creek district office. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:

On the Iraq Emergency Supplemental spending bill now headed for the House floor:

“It’s our best chance to stop the war and deal with a president who is confronting a new majority in Congress which speaks for the American people, who want a change of course in Iraq. … I think we’re well on our way to 218 votes.”


“I think my constituents generally are supportive of every effort to change course in Iraq and to bring our troops home sooner and safer,” while also understanding and honoring the sacrifices — thousands dead, many thousands more wounded, and half a trillion tax dollars spent — already made. “They want Iraq stabilized and they understand there is a short-term chance for Iraq to get itself righted, to give the government the chance to make the kinds of political accomodations necessary to put down the civil war.”


“My constituents want our troops home yesterday, they wanted this over a long time ago. But I think they are very understanding that this is about George Bush, this is George Bush’s war, this is a president who has exceeded his authority and has chosen willfully to disregard what the American people have clearly indicated are their preferences.”

There’s more — on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, military readiness, the left-leaning netroots who want to oust her and the 2008 presidential election — after the jump.

On Gonzales:
“Is he still the attorney general? … I’ve been done with him for a long time, we are long past his goodbye party. It is disappointing to come to the conclusion that I have come to, but it is very clear to me that this administration is run by Karl Rove and it is run solely to enable the politics of George Bush and his friends. And they actually don’t, I think, mind doing a little public policy here and there to kind of cover what their real activities and motivations are, but it’s politics 24-7. It’s to engender and enable the feathering of the nests of their friends and their political motivations and their political aspirations, and they have done terrible harm to this country.”

On military readiness:
“We have a broken military, our readiness is at — y’know, it’s classified, but it’s enough to make me get the chills.”


“This is well beyond a short-term fix, this is a significant policy and investment change that we’re going to have to make to get the readiness. Readiness has a number of different components: It’s not just, do you have the right number of people to fit into these units and do they have the right skills and are they trained and rested. There’s a big piece of it that’s equipment. There are two ratings, C1 and S1, and S1 is the equipment. C1 is bad enough; the S1 is a scandal.”

On liberal bloggers and activists targeting her for a 2008 primary-election challenge:
“I don’t think they’re mad at me alone, by the way … I think they target a lot of people. But I have a district that’s not a majority Democratic district, and I think that if you look at the last election results, which were just a few months ago, where I got 68 percent of the vote — that’s 110,000 votes — I think that I have a lot of support in my district, and those are the people that I work for, those are the people with whom I think I have a lot of common ground and a lot of support.
“But because I don’t have a majority district, of course, I take threats seriously even if they’re coming from outside of my district. But you know what? I didn’t get into this business to be popular, I’m not in politics to be anything other than what I promised to be, which is a hardworking member of Congress who represents my constituents in an ethical and honest way and who is an independent, effective moderate. I think that’s why I get the kind of votes I get, and I think that I — I’m not surprised that some people, because of our proximity to San Francisco and Berkeley, can misconstrue the personality of my district, but I think I’m right in line with the people of my district.”

On the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates:
“I will tell you I like our chances. Everyone that has declared, I think, is just enormously capable. I think this is an extraordinary time: We don’t have either an incumbent nominee or an institutional nominee, and neither do the Republicans. I think that is refreshing and gives the race a lot of potential. … There still a chance for everybody to get a good look. I’m very pleased that California is going to get a chance to weigh in; I’m not pleased we’re going to spend $90 million for a special election, but I do understand that decision is made in Sacramento, not Washington.”


“I am very disposed toward Sen. Clinton, and part of that is that I have been a friend and a fan of hers for many years, and we have very similar kinds of points of view and we share very similar values, so that’s part of it. And, y’know, I’m talking to her about how things go, but I just want to see things emerge a little bit more.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.