CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Republican congresswoman's crystal ball must have been malfunctioning in January 2006 -- because she said then things were so well on track in Iraq that American troops would soon begin returning to the U.S. "on a permanent fashion."
Schmidt -- incorrectly -- viewed events on the ground in such a positive manner that soldiers and Marines could be withdrawn starting last summer. Instead, we wound up with a surge this year adding, rather than subtracting, combat forces. The Ohio legislator had just spent 15 hours on a trip to Baghdad, and her analysis was flat-out wrong. Today, Schmidt looks like a simpleton.
Schmidt's comments appeared in a Jan. 15, 2006 Cincinnati Enquirer story, a story that is no longer available online. The Bellwether retrieved the article by looking up clippings. It was written by Malia Rulon, and a digital version is in a database at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County called NewsBank. Unfortunately, the database is not linkable.
Here are a few of the pertinent paragraphs:
"WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jean Schmidt said Saturday, after a 15-hour trip to Baghdad, that progress is being made in training Iraqi troops and the size of the U.S. force in the country probably could be reduced later this year.
"Schmidt, who spoke by phone from a U.S. base in Kuwait, said the bipartisan congressional delegation she was traveling with met Friday with Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and soldiers serving on the ground.
"I can assure you that progress is being made," said Schmidt, R-Miami Township. "If they keep on the track that they are on now, then by summer we should see some more of our troops coming home on a permanent fashion."
Schmidt, of course, was following the White House line at the time. President Bush planned to withdraw soldiers to levels below the 138,000 in country before the Iraqi elections.
Schmidt said she viewed Iraq as stabilizing. Rulon reported the OH-02 congresswoman "saw signs that Iraq is starting to become westernized: cell phones, satellite dishes, a Starbucks coffee shop and even a Century 21 real-estate sign."
Surprisingly, nobody who is running for her job in the 2008 primaries is pressing Schmidt much about how her analysis was so off -- the troops are not, and did not, come home "on a permanent fashion." Democrat Vic Wulsin is running for renomination in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District and -- in this blog post she has featured on her website since last week (scan down the page) -- didn't point out Schmidt's over-optimistic statement about bringing the troops home. Republican Phil Heimlich seems to have been silent on the war. Does he back the president or favor some other course? Heimlich hasn't tipped his hand.