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Duckworth on Senate Floor: “My Diaper-Wearing 20-Month-Old Has Better Impulse Control Than This President” | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

January 08, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), spoke on the Senate floor today following Iran’s attacks last night on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. The attacks came in response to General Qasem Soleimani being killed in a U.S. airstrike last week. In her remarks, Duckworth focused on how this decision could further isolate us from our partners, jeopardize regional democracy as well as stability and endanger the lives of U.S. troops. Video of the Senator’s speech is available here.

Key quotes:

  • “Quote, ‘All is well.’ That’s what Donald Trump said just hours after a dozen missiles were fired at two U.S. military bases last night… That’s what he said as our nation careens toward a reckless, unauthorized war of his own making—borne out of his illiteracy in matters ranging from foreign policy to common sense. Donald Trump never deigned to put on the uniform, using his money to buy his way out of military service when his country needed him during Vietnam, so let me make something clear to him: All is certainly NOT well when war is on the horizon just because you wanted to look like the toughest kid on the playground.”
  • “With one choice, Donald Trump squandered the opportunity that existed to push for greater democracy and stability in the region… In one fell swoop, he somehow managed to villainize the U.S. and victimize Iran… isolating us from our long-term partner in Iraq and amping up Iran’s influence in a country everyone knows is vital to our security interests throughout the Middle East.”
  • “Once again he’s been manipulated by a hostile regime into decisions that further their goals while endangering the security of the nation Trump’s actually supposed to lead… All these dictators have realized the same thing: the President of the United States is as easy to control as a toddler. Sweet talk him or thump your chest and issue a few schoolyard threats, and you’ve got him. He’ll fall for it every time, doing your bidding as if it’s his own. I wish this weren’t true, but my diaper-wearing 20-month-old has better impulse control than this president.”

Duckworth’s full remarks as prepared are below:

  • Quote, “All is well. That’s what Donald Trump said just hours after a dozen missiles were fired at two U.S. military bases last night. That’s what he said as thousands of troops are readying to deploy to the Middle East… to a hotbed of anger, where wearing an American flag on your shoulder gets more dangerous by the day. That’s what he said as our nation careens toward a reckless, unauthorized war of his own making… borne out of his illiteracy in matters ranging from foreign policy to common sense.
  • Donald Trump never deigned to put on the uniform, using his money to buy his way out of military service when his country needed him during Vietnam, so let me make something clear to him: All is certainly NOT well when war is on the horizon just because you wanted to look like the toughest kid on the playground. I’m incredibly thankful that no Americans were killed last night in Iran’s rebuttal attack. But some missed missiles should be no cause for celebration for Donald Trump. Just because there weren’t fatalities yesterday doesn’t mean there won’t be any tragedies tomorrow.
  • We got into this situation because of Trump’s glibness. Because he liked the feeling of thumping his chest and the roar it got from Fox News. Because he was so enamored by maximum pressure that he laughed at the idea of even minimum diplomacy. And now, America is less safe as a result. So no, Mr. President. All is certainly not well. Sadly, Trump’s glibness is shocking but not surprising. Last weekend he was at his golf course in Florida while more and more American troops were packing their rucks and getting ready to deploy 7,000 miles east. He was tweeting from Mar-a-Lago while the Iraqi parliament was voting to expel U.S. servicemembers from their nation. 
  • He was rubbing shoulders with fellow millionaires from the comfort of his ritzy country club while the US-led coalition against ISIS was announcing that we no longer have the resources to fight ISIS in Iraq… that instead, we have to hunker down and focus on protecting our troops from the acts of revenge that Iran has promised are on the way.
  • A potential global conflict is veering closer by the hour. And it’s because of Donald Trump. It’s because of his impetuousness and his ignorance. It’s because once again he’s been manipulated by a hostile regime into decisions that further their goals while endangering the security of the nation Trump’s actually supposed to lead. When I deployed to Iraq in 2004, I saw firsthand just how eager the country was to shake off Iran’s influence. 
  • And I watched as the anti-Iran protests continued long after I flew my last mission. As young Iraqis spoke out against Iran while I was back in the country last spring… As protests roiled as recently as last month, when tens of thousands of Iraqis flooded the streets… raising voices and picket signs… demanding that their government crawl out from under Iran’s thumb. Now, after Donald Trump decided to kill Maj. General Qasem Soleimani on sovereign Baghdad soil, those same streets are filled with protesters once more.
  • Yet this time, they’re marching in solidarity with the enemy that hundreds of Iraqis died marching against just a few short weeks ago. With one choice, Donald Trump squandered the opportunity that existed to push for greater democracy and stability in the region… In one fell swoop, he somehow managed to villainize the U.S. and victimize Iran… isolating us from our long-term partner in Iraq and amping up Iran’s influence in a country everyone knows is vital to our security interests throughout the Middle East.
  • Look, Iran didn’t want Trump to kill Soleimani. But they were hungry for all that’s happened as a result. They were starving to go on the offensive… Desperate to change the narrative… to swing public opinion and solidify their power in Iraq… to have a new excuse to attack anyone with an American flag on their shoulder… and to shrug off the restraints of the nuclear deal. Like a pawn in a game of chess he didn’t seem to know he was playing, Trump was baited into handing them all of that. 
  • Like a child who is blind to consequences… ignorant of his own ignorance… he’s given Iran everything they could’ve asked for… making it far more likely that tomorrow, or next week, or next month, more Americans will be sent into another one of the forever wars he’s bragged that he—and he alone—would be able to end.
  • We used to have the Monroe Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine.  Now, we have the Trump Doctrine, in which the leader of the free world… the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest fighting force ever assembled… gets manipulated again and again by the dictators of hostile regimes.  We’ve already seen it too many times since he was sworn into office.
  • We’ve seen it play out on the streets of Venezuela and the deserts of northeast Syria. We’ve seen him get manipulated by tyrants in Pyongyang and Riyadh… subjugated by despots in Moscow and Ankara, as our allies laugh—literally laugh—at him behind his back. All these dictators have realized the same thing: the President of the United States is as easy to control as a toddler. Sweet-talk him or thump your chest and issue a few schoolyard threats, and you’ve got him. He’ll fall for it every time, doing your bidding as if it’s his own. 
  • I wish this weren’t true, but my diaper-wearing 20-month-old has better impulse control than this president. Kids in school cafeterias know not to look up when someone tells them that “gullible” is written on the ceiling. But I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump—a man who once stared into a solar eclipse—would be caught stealing a glance, just to be sure. The thing is, Trump told us who he was long before he stepped into the Oval Office. Too many just chose not to believe him.
  • As a so-called businessman, he left a string of bankruptcies wherever he went, destroying both his own companies and the small businesses unlucky enough to be caught in his wake. Now though, as Commander-in-Chief, his incompetence has cost us our standing in the world, endangered our national security and placed an even bigger target on our deployed troops.
  • Now, the currency he’s spending isn’t just the money his father left him, but the blood of the men and women who have sworn an oath to defend this nation. Sixteen years ago, I was one of the many Americans who deployed to Iraq… one of the many who was willing to sacrifice everything after our Commander-in-Chief convinced Congress that our nation’s security depended on removing Saddam Hussein and replacing his regime with a democracy.
  • A decade and a half later, we’ve spent trillions of dollars to achieve that goal. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed or displaced. Thousands of our bravest have died for that goal. Tens of thousands more have been wounded. We did not sacrifice all of that for Donald Trump to turn our Iraqi partners into adversaries who vote to kick us out of the democracy we helped build.
  • I have friends who’ve done eight… nine… 10 tours in Iraq… who go in each time knowing that they’ll probably be back on that same stretch of sand in a couple years, fighting for that same patch of desert over and over again. Gaining a few feet one tour. Losing an inch or two the next. Watching their buddies lose limbs or lives over that same piece of ground, time and time again.
  • These troops show up, ready to do their jobs, whenever we ask. No matter what. Now, especially after the attacks last night, we in Congress need to do our job. We are the branch vested with that most solemn duty of declaring war. So we need to exert our Constitutional control over this out-of-control toddler-in-chief, and vote to prevent him from entangling us in another major war without legal authorization from Congress. In this moment… at this precipice…we need to be doing whatever we can to break the cycle of escalation. We need less chest thumping and more diplomacy.
  • Because if we truly want to honor our heroes in uniform, we wouldn’t send them into harm’s way without a clear-eyed discussion of the mission we’re asking them to carry out and the consequences for both them and our nation. Yet so far, Trump hasn’t even managed that. Having never sacrificed much himself, he doesn’t understand our troops’ sacrifices… 
  • Having never really served anything other than his own self-interest, he doesn’t give a second thought to their service… treating their dedication to our nation with the kind of reckless abandon he did the cash that he blew through with each of his bankruptcies. I don’t need to remind anyone that Donald Trump is a five-deferment draft dodger.
  • But Trump’s ignorance about military service isn’t just captured by the privilege he showed when he dodged service in Vietnam. No, it’s also revealed in his brazen embrace of torture… his hostility toward good order and discipline… and his stated desire to commit war crimes.
  • I implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to recognize our Commander-in-Chief for who he really is.Donald Trump will never willingly cut the puppet strings that the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are using to make him dance. We need a strong majority in the Senate to force such action. Until then, small-time dictators will continue to have access to the world’s most powerful marionette… and we will all suffer the consequences.

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