The Harrisonburg Citizen reports on Congressman Cline’s Monday town hall in the city:
Republican U.S. Rep. Ben Cline told about 50 of his constituents in Harrisonburg Monday night that while he wants to avoid war with Iran, he agreed with President Donald Trump’s assassination order of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani based on the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in place in Iraq.
“Given the information I have, I believe that the action was appropriate,” said Cline, who just finished his first year representing Virginia’s 6th Congressional District. “Now the question is: where do we go from here?”
The action may or may not have been appropriate (Soleimani was a brutal and murderous figure), but undertaking it with no clear idea of possible ramifications seems reckless in the extreme.
“There is a point where if there is a response, and the President determines that a full engagement is necessary, we would work in concert to make sure the war is avoided as much as possible,” Cline said. “But if it does occur, it should be short, and is one we win overwhelmingly.”
It’s hard to decipher Cline’s meaning here. Does he believe there could be a “full engagement” short of war? And historically, predictions of “short” wars have a poor record of accuracy.
When a constituent asked if he agreed with Trump’s tweet following Soleimani’s assassination – which threatened to target Iranian cultural sites in response to retaliation – Cline said he would support action that complies with international law.
Audience members asked follow-ups asking him to clarify his answer, and Cline said he believes the president would abide by those terms and would revisit the language of the tweet.
Bombing cultural sites is against international law, and considered a war crime. But of course Cline can’t bring himself to directly criticize Trump on even his most reckless statements and actions.
At times, it was a tough crowd, for instance, when Cline was asked about congressional action on climate change.
“Humans can contribute to that change, and I think the evidence is showing that it can,” Cline said. “Then there’s the question of how much is it contributing to that change, and I believe that there’s still a lot of debate about how much.”
A cacophony of “no’s” built up in response to his answer, prompting Cline to backpedal.
“Maybe we should review the rules,” he said.
Whatever that means.
Thanks to everyone who turns out for Cline’s town halls and challenges him with uncomfortable questions.
Update: Commenter Martha Sider writes:
I attended the meeting. When he said “Maybe we should review the rules” he was responding to the cacophony of “no’s” and went on to say that such outbursts from those who hadn’t been called upon would not be tolerated.