Newt’s Not Alone: Four Republican Lawmakers Have Shifted On Libya

As ThinkProgress reported Wednesday, former Speaker of the House and current presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has had a hard time defining his position on American intervention in Libya. While Gingrich may be the most high-profile flip-flopper, he’s certainly not the only one to have changed his position. In fact, ABC News reports that multiple Republican members of Congress have conveniently shifted their positions on Libya to keep themselves on the opposite side of the issue from President Obama.

In a Feb. 26 press release, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called for a no-fly zone, saying:

β€œ[S]tronger penalties must be imposed in order to hold the regime accountable for its heinous crimes, and to prevent further violence against the Libyan people. … Additional U.S. and international measures should include the establishment and enforcement of a no-fly zone.”

Ros-Lehtinen, however, expressed new-found reservations in a March 26 release, saying she is “concerned” about the enforcement of the no-fly zone.

Similarly, on March 9, House Armed Services Committee Chair Buck McKeon (R-CA) criticized President Obama for not taking action, saying, “He’s doing a great job of doing nothing on Libya.” But eleven days later, after Obama announced the intervention, McKeon held a different position:

I am concerned that the use of military force in the absence of clear political objectives for our country risks entrenching the United States in a humanitarian mission whose scope and duration are not known at this point and cannot be controlled by us.

And then there is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s panel on the Middle East. McCaul announced Thursday that the administration had missed its window of opportunity for a successful intervention. “We had an opportunity ten days ago,” McCaul said. “We failed in that.”

However, just six days before deciding Obama was 10 days too late, McCaul supported the administration’s decision to use military force.

“Gadhafi’s heinous crimes against his own people warrant prompt action in order to mitigate the loss of life, to allow for uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid and to ensure a more peaceful resolution of conflict between the Libyan government and its citizens.”

Not to be outdone, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, called for intervention in a Feb. 22 press release:

“The United States Must Support These Brave Men and Women Who are Seeking to Throw Off the Shackles of Tyranny in Libya.” β€œThe unrest in Libya is another sign that our nation must take action to protect our vital national interests and support the efforts of those who are seeking freedom across the globe,” she said then.

And yet, after Obama took action, Miller accused him of doing so without “clearly stating to the American people the compelling national interest” of intervening.

Last night, Gingrich hinted that his apparent flip-flops were actually just individual responses to positions taken by Obama. Apparently, these four lawmakers were reading from the same playbook. No matter the decision Obama makes, they’ll be there to oppose it.