Politicians Nearly United In Support Of War

January 18, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich and John A. Morris

Councilman David G. Boschert plans to drop his gray-suited political image today and pick up the mantle of spit-shined U.S. Marine Capt. David G. Boschert, media branch, public relations.

The Crownsville Democrat, a Vietnam veteran and reservist, was called to duty yesterday as a media representative at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington.

"We handle media inquiries and the pencil press and questions from the community," Boschert said yesterday. He plans a press conference this morning to inform the public of his role and its effect on his councilmanic duties.

Boschert said he plans to introduce a council resolution supporting the action in the Gulf, putting an official stamp on near-universal support among county politicians.

"I applaud the president. I think he made the right decision for an immediate and massive engagement," he said. "As a veteran of Vietnam, I feel this won't be a repeat of our policy there. We are there to win this time."

U.S. Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th, said Congress will go a step further today with a declaration of support that he likened to a formal declaration of war.

McMillen joined a minority of Democrats Saturday when he voted to authorize use of U.S troops in the Gulf. Although he told constituents at a town meeting Monday night thatthe measure did not make war a certainty, he said he was prepared for news of the U.S. assault on Iraq after President Bush called Sunday to thank him him for his vote.

"I urged him to show restraint," he said. "(But) the president exhibited some frustration with the fact that there wasn't even a sliver of a crack in the door as far as the intransigence of Saddam Hussein was concerned."

Reactions among the county's General Assembly delegation yesterday ranged from surprise to sorrow. Legislators were subdued, but otherwise went about business as usual.

"We all knew it was inevitable," said Delegate Elizabeth Smith, R-Davidsonsville. "I'm glad (Bush) did it this quick rather than making us all wait."

"If we had waited, we would have looked like fools, like we didn't have any backbone," said Delegate W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena.

Delegate Charles W. "Stokes" Kolodziejski, D-Carvel Beach, said he was shocked by the news and would have preferred President Bush give economic sanctions more of a chance.

"I was hoping they could settle this without any gunfire," said Kolodziejski, whose 19-year-old grandson, Jayson, is a Marine in Saudi Arabia. "Iwas hoping we could have settled this diplomatically, but it looks like as hard-headed as Saddam Hussein is, that wasn't possible."

The strongest criticism of Bush's action among local politicians came from Annapolis Alderman Carl Snowden, D-Ward 5, who questioned the timing of the attack.

"The birthday of Martin Luther King was used asa deadline (for Saudi withdrawal), which was highly inappropriate," he said. "It was like declaring war on Christmas.

U.S. action in the Gulf also suggests a double standard, he said, because American troops were not sent in when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan or when South Africa used force against neighboring black nations.

Delegate Marsha Perry, D-Crofton, sobbed when she first heard the news Wednesday night. She was at a University of Maryland reception for lawmakers when CNN first reported American bombs falling on Baghdad.

"We were talking excitedly about higher education when they said, 'We've bombed Baghdad,' " Perry said. "I listened to those three reporters on the ninth floor of that Baghdad hotel, with those bombs and gunsgoing off around them, many times. I feel like I know those guys. Itwas a very sad moment."

The General Assembly session already was subdued, as the country heads into a recession and lawmakers attempt to overcome a $423 million budget deficit this year and anticipated shortfalls in state revenue next year.

Yesterday, legislators were scheduled to receive updates from Schaefer administration officials on sales tax revenue projections and hear testimony on a bill requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. But some said they had trouble focusing on local issues.

"I sit on a committee that deals with sludge and waterfowl stamps," said Perry, a member of the House Environmental Matters Committee. "How are we supposed to sit and listen to a bureaucrat talk about saving the waterfowl when we're waiting to see how Saddam Hussein is going to strike back?"

The prospect that terrorism could bring the war home is sobering, legislators said. The Senate office building was evacuated early in the morning because of a bombscare that police said may not have been related to the Persian Gulf events.

"We already had a bomb scare here, plus I have a son who is an airline pilot and a daughter who is a stewardess," Huff said.

"It's an eerie feeling around here," Smith said, looking out her second-floor window in the Lowe House Office Building about 11 a.m. "There aren't a lot of people walking on the streets."

Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville, said he supported military action from the outset. "The madman from the Middle East wasn't going to negotiate with anybody," he said.

But war "is going to change the lifestyle of Americans for a long time," Gary added. "Even if we win, we're going to live under the cloak of terrorism. (Iraqis) will have no other way ofgetting back at us."

Like other lawmakers, Delegate Patrick Scannello, D-Glen Burnie, said he wants to see the conflict resolved as quickly as possible.

"I'm concerned about the safety of our people over there. I just hope the order is already out to continue hitting Saddam Hussein to bring him to his knees. Hussein brought it on himself. It's a shame his people have to pay as well."

Staff writers Staff writer Robert E. Lee contributed to this story.

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