October 23rd, 2007
01:30 PM ET
11 years ago

Stark apologizes for saying troops die for Bush's 'amusement'

Watch Stark's apology on the House floor Tuesday..

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Pete Stark, D-California, apologized Tuesday on the House floor for his recent comments saying troops in Iraq were getting "their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

The apology came shortly after House Republicans failed in their effort to formally censure Stark for the remark.

"I do apologize, and for this reason, I think that we have a serious issue before us, the issue of providing medical care to children, the issue of what we do about a war that we are divided about how to end," Stark said. "I hope that with this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and that we can return to the issues that do divide us, but that we can resolve in a better fashion."

Democrats successfully blocked a resolution by a 196-173 vote to censure Stark for "personally abusive language toward the president and members of the House" and "despicable conduct."

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Stark "dishonored our soldiers" and said the House can't "afford to let these kinds of remarks go unanswered."

Stark made the controversial comments during a debate over President Bush's veto of children's health care legislation last week.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Olga, Chula Vista, CA

    Just one more hateful and meanspirited liberal. One more ignorant remark about our Commander in Chief and our brave troops. Will it never end!

    October 23, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Allyson, Austin TEXAS

    well maybe if bush didn't spend his time fighting pointless wars and ignoring the health care of kids&those who need it maybe people wouldn't have to make comments about him...no matter how false or true they might be.

    October 23, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. Ike, Toronto, Canada

    Well said, Chet in Lake Havasu, Arizona!

    Our soldiers have to pretend that they risked their lives to allow Iraqis to vote, but we all know those photos of “brave” Iraqis waiting in line to vote for a “representative” government were doctored by the same people who fabricated the nonsense about Michael Moore’s films being filled with verifiable lies.

    What the pro-war side doesn’t understand is that the ideals represented in the U.S. Constitution aren’t worth fighting for anywhere but maybe in America. And even then, we’d need to make sure that we discharge any soldier who’s brainwashed into thinking that fighting terrorism is noble, when terrorism, like humanitarianism, is a fair way of looking at the world. Who are we to judge those who purposely kill as many Iraqi civilians as possible, let alone capture and kill them?

    We need to do everything we can to stand in the way of progress in Iraq. You’re views are in the right place, Chet.


    October 23, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. Jim, Columbus, GA

    I'm embarrassed at most of the comments I read here.. You like to talk about "Support the Troops.. But not the War" Well, your comments have proved that's a lie.

    As a Vietnam veteran and a retired US Army Ranger CSM I gave 30 years of my life defending your freedom of speech -and I have never seen so much vile and hate directed to our brave men and women who they and their families are willing to sacrifice everything so you can hide behind a keyboard and defend those that sling insults at them like so called "Leaders" like Durbin and this scum Stark ...

    President Bush didn't start this – but you need to understand – It ain't VN – You better read about the Islam goal of world domination – Before you Muslims attack me then you better read your Koran...... I HAVE!

    I was asked "how many babys did you kill?" by a long haired pinko in Oakland when I got back from VN in 69 after fighting with the 173rd Airborne Bde- I tried to drown the puke in a toliet-

    You wanna argue Iraq – OK - But remember this .. NOBODY hates War more than the soldier! ... and their Family!

    You wanna support em? .. then take the gloves off and give em what they need to WIN!

    This Islamic appeasment started with your Hero's Carter (Iran Hostage)and Clinton - remember Blackhawk down in Somlia? That was the 3rd Ranger Bn that you saw taking needless causalities because Clinton and Aspen refused Task Force Ranger Armor – I was the orginal 1SG of B Co when we stood the 3rd Ranger Bn and the 75th Ranger Regiment up in 84 - and to think I was fighting in vietnam while Clinton was protesting me in England becoming a "Rhode Scholar" Kinda easy to figure why he didn't support TF Ranger ain't it Smart Guys?

    Agree or Disagree – Right or Wrong I'm a Man of my convictions and you now know where I stand –

    You wanna trash talk .. then walk the walk Hero's ... Attack me if you want ... But leave our Soldiers alone.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

    October 23, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. Karen,nj

    A WEAKLING!!!!

    October 23, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. David, Dallas Tx

    Francis Christopher of Dallas: That person A can criticize person B for what B said is evidence that the right to free speech remains strong and healthy. No laws have been passed reducing our right to free speech.

    To everyone who asks why Stark should've apologized: it wasn't for criticizing Bush's war, it was for belittling the deaths of patriotic soldiers while he criticized Bush's war.

    Having seen the video, I don't think he meant it that way. But apologizing and clarifying isn't inappropriate when you realize you said or implied something you didn't intend.

    It certainly wasn't enough to censure him. If the Repubs want to censure somebody, maybe they should look at lawbreaking Congressmen, instead of those who simply misspoke....

    October 23, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Pete Stark is pretty dumb, so I'm not surprised he said this.

    October 23, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. Michael Sheridan, Grand Rapids, MI

    Its like the old saying goes.
    Republican think Democrats are stupid.
    Democrats think Republicans are evil.

    Posted By Ben, Baltimore, MD : October 23, 2007 3:05 pm

    What an unbelievable case of psychological projection! Don't you live on the same planet where people representing your party regularly write books about liberals with titles like "Treason" and "Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism"? Most Democrats I know don't believe most Republicans are evil – just filled so full of utter misinformation about Democrats by right-wing radio that it will take decades to get this country back to some semblance of comity.

    That said, Rep. Stark issued a pretty good non-apology apology – enough to get Boehner's howler monkeys off his back, anyway. I have to agree with the commenter above who took issue with the mischaracterization of Stark's remarks – claiming that Bush was amused by the deaths of troops doesn't disrespect the troops, it disrespects Bush. Trying to make it about the troops when it isn't is just the typical MO of the GOP leaders who are desperate to avoid every discussion of their failures in Iraq (and in the White House).

    October 23, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. Zach

    Even though I am republic he shouldn't have said he was sorry. I wouldnt have I would have backed what I said!

    October 23, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  10. Mrs. America

    Unfortunately, this is just another case of the Dems running scared from George W. I don't understand what he (GW) holds over people that he can control them so. Nancy Pelosi's Dems have not even begun to get the job done that the people hired them to do. Every single incumbent of both parties should be voted out of office next election. New blood is needed on both sides of the aisle. Well, maybe the Idahoans could keep Larry Craig in–just for the people's amusement.

    October 23, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Hey CNN, what's with all the deletions of posts made by conservative patriots on this board? Does free speech only apply to liberals that support your agenda?

    Surprise surprise. The Democrats close ranks around one of their own. The comments were beyond contempt and the socialists posing as Democrats have once again shown their true colors.

    This veteran certainly does not accept Stark's shallow and insincere apology.

    October 23, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Sometimes I say stupid things when I am very angry, very depressed, or very frustrated. Afterwards, I apologize to those I spoke unkindly to, explaining that I used poor judgment in not controlling my mouth until I had regained control of my mood. Most people will accept my apology, saying "Forgiven and forgotten."

    October 23, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Mike , Downingtown, PA

    Why has CNN failed to report on the awarding of the Congressional Metal of Honor. New sprograms have an obligation to report news, all news.

    October 23, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. Michael Sheridan, Grand Rapids, MI

    Its like the old saying goes.
    Republican think Democrats are stupid.
    Democrats think Republicans are evil.

    Posted By Ben, Baltimore, MD : October 23, 2007 3:05 pm

    Apparently, you're not living on the same planet where Republicans are constantly writing books about Democrats with titles such as "Treason" and "Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism". Hardly a day goes by without some blowhard on talk radio or Fox News claiming that Democrats are evil.

    Rep. Stark's non-apology apology wasn't necessary, but at least it was good enough to shut up Boehner's Congressional howler monkeys. And I agree with the earlier poster who took issue with Boehner following the current GOP playbook and making every comment critical of the war somehow disrespectful of the troops. Stark was disrespectful of the President, no doubt about it – but he's a big boy, and the GOP shouldn't keep trying to hide him behind a shield of innocent soldiers to keep us from discussing Bush's multiple failures as President, man, and human being.

    October 23, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Tom Dedham, Mass

    "24 months in combat for your sorry butt".

    From one vet to another, thank you for VOLUNTEERING and SACRIFICING for what you thought was right.

    For Chet, there is nothing that can be said to change your obviously warped senses so I will leave you with this great thought:

    Thank a teacher for teaching you how to read and write, thank a soldier for it being in English.

    October 23, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  16. Michael Sheridan, Grand Rapids, MI

    Apologies to all for that duplicate-ish post – CNN's moderator temporarily disappeared my first one for some reason, and then put it back after I re-posted.

    October 23, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Independent Voter, TN

    Very sad to read all the hateful and venomous comments on this thread. American politics has devolved into nothing but confrontation between the parties. There used to at least be civility between people of opposing points of view. Now it's all about hate and "I'm right and you're wrong."

    I think Stark did the right thing by apologizing. His original statement was politically offensive to many people including many voters in his own constituency. He actually behaved in a statesmanlike fashion after all.

    If you're one of those individuals who seethes with hatred of people with opposing points of view, you should not be involved in politics. The system is becoming far too intolerant.

    October 23, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Grover Fairfield, Ohio

    I consider his apoligy for telling the truth to be an insult to the nation.

    Bushie would probably love to go to one of Vick's dog fights, but then with the Iraq ASSAULT why should he bother with dogs, he has people.

    October 23, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  19. john williams san diego, ca.

    stark should only apologize for acting like jimmy carter and ted kennedy with the same hate america rhetoric..liberalism–degenerative brain disease

    October 23, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  20. Dave, Dover, De

    I ask this question, what is the difference between a terrorist and a U.S. soldier? I don't see the difference they both kill, when I last checked the bible said, "thou shalt not kill."
    They both are led blindly by cowards who refuse to get their hands dirty so they brainwash followers to murder and maim for some fantastic propaganda or self righteous nonsense. When Bush stole the election I went out and purchased stocks in oil and defense, so I will say thank you Bush!

    October 23, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  21. Darrel @Lone Rock Iowa

    Stark's remarks did show lack of thought. He did make a mistake in the words he chose. He said he was sorry.
    Time to move on.

    So lets move on together and solve the real problems like Term limits/ pork barreling/Lets create an AMERICAN party and leave the grand standing and bickering for the elephants and the donkeys/United we stand and divided we fall/Get out and VOTE to clean up congress and the presidentual problems we have/Take great thought to find qualified leaders with AMERICA in mind/
    They are working for John Q Public and need to be made more accountable/Bickering and Grandstanding is for the amusement of self serving individuals/ Lets find those with the backbone and foritude to inforce the laws we already have. To pick and choose the laws that suit the day or time is not the
    way of a true Democratic Society where the wishes of the people should be met.
    Bless You All!!

    October 23, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. ton

    You people make me sick!!! THANK GOD YOU GUYS WERN"T AROUND DURING WORLD WAR11 it must be all about you LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOsers

    October 23, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  23. Kim, Dallas TX

    In response to Jon,

    I am a member of Mensa with a 155 IQ. I don't argue that the comment made was in bad taste; however, the facts show that Bush had every intention to go to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq months before 911 happened. Comments were made that it would happen. Why? The neocons wanted to keep American the lone superpower into the 21st century. Look up articles regarding PNAC, Project for a New American Century. They wanted control of the world's last vast untapped oil and control of the region. They were able to negotiate the Afghanistan pipeline shortly after the war there started. A project that had been put on hold. Guess who is making the pipeline and profit from the oil there...Haliburton. I am sure you are aware that Haliburton has many non bid contracts due to the Iraq war. They have made billions from it. They have now been given another multimillion dollar contract to build internment camps in the US. Does this sound a bit like Nazi Germany? It sure scares the h*** out of me. Sometimes I think having a high IQ is a curse in that it becomes too easy to figure out what others around you are too ignorant to catch on to. My fear is that martial law will happen before the next election and Bush/Cheney will continue to run the country as self proclaimed dictators. Why would they want to relinquish the power they took? If you think we have a democracy with freedoms, you have not been keeping up with what this government has done to our Constitution. All we can hope for is that people will finally read and become informed and not be so completely ignorant, and not hide under the statement, "must be unpatriotic to not agree with our government". It takes a brave person to speak out against someone determined to take their freedoms away. Much ignorance has been shown by those so willing to allow this to go on.

    October 24, 2007 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  24. John, Corpus Christi

    Stark needs to resign today. He needs help. And where was the wall to wall coverage from CNN?

    October 24, 2007 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  25. Ryan Indianapolis

    He should still be censored, this idiot is making these comments on the floor of the senate about MY President during a time of WAR, 100yrs ago this man would have either been hung or tar and feathered. Democrats have sunk about as low as you can go and it starts with there leadership. And all you people on here happy he made these comments are sick uninformed ignorant morons that have no clue what is going on with the war and still think it is 2006 and think we are still losing. Catch up Democrats, be informed read no-bias reporting from Iraq you might be surprised how much progress is being made instead of shooting off your mouth the war is LOST.

    October 24, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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