This Sunday on "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer led a spirited discussion on the wars abroad and at home-- as President Obama announced last week, the nation is speeding up its withdrawal from Afghanistan, while partisan divide has split Washington on nearly everything from gun control to new cabinet appointments.
Schieffer was first joined by Senator John McCain (R, Ariz.) of the Armed Services Committee. Senator McCain opened by expressing his concerns about withdrawing from Afghanistan, stating, "I think you are probably going to see an unraveling, gradually," of stability in Afghanistan. The Arizona Senator continued, "I don't think there's any doubt that the Taliban are a significant force remaining [in Afghanistan]." From there, McCain raised concerns about President Obama's nominee to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, saying that he still had "legitimate questions" for the candidate before he would be comfortable with confirmation, citing "an obligation to the men and women who are now serving in uniform." Still, Senator McCain dodged the question as to whether he'd block former Senator Hagel's appointment, saying he'd neither vote for or against Hagel at this time.
McCain closed by addressing the issue of the hour in Washington; gun control. The Senator agreed that a discussion on guns was necessary, saying "I applaud the conversation," but warned "to somehow believe that, just by taking guns away from people is the answer--I don't think history shows that's the right way to do it." Moreover, McCain said, a ban on assault weapons couldn't and shouldn't pass Congress at this time.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) then joined "Face the Nation," where he applauded the President's call for a gradual troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. "We've killed Osama bin Laden, we've crippled Al Qaeda," said Senator Manchin. "Are we going to be there forever?" Manchin warned against a "war of occupation," before calling for forces to "come back home and rebuild America."
Senator Manchin agreed that there were still "some serious questions we need to ask" before confirming Hagel as Secretary of Defense, but said he'd ultimately give "every consideration" to our President on his cabinet appointments. Manchin, a proud NRA member, closed by calling for a change in dialogue in light of the Newtown tragedy, but warned that he had larger questions about a holistic approach "to cure this violence, this culture of mass violence."
General McChrystal, former commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, then joined the program to discuss his new memoir, "My Share of the Task." McChrystal declined to comment specifically on a troop withdrawal, saying "active generals, they're there, they know what they're doing." Still, McChrystal warned, "the region matters," and a strong Afghanistan would bode well for US interests in the Middle East.
McChrystal then talked about his career in the military and the events that led to his controversial retirement in light of a "Rolling Stone" article where he and his staff made disparaging remarks about President Obama. Said McChrystal, "I have regrets that some of the things that I was responsible for, I didn't finish. I didn't finish the job in Afghanistan, I let down a lot of people that worked for me," but that he ultimately was proud of taking responsibility.
Bob then spoke with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who called for a pathway to full citizenship and comprehensive immigration reform. "I think it's got to be bipartisan. It won't pass muster if it's not," said Villaraigosa, "and I'm heartened to see that Senator McCain and others, I think they're about eight in the Senate that have been working together and talking about comprehensive immigration reform, not just a piecemeal approach." Villaraigosa closed by addressing the issue of gun control, a significant one for his city of Los Angeles, saying, "We've got to do a lot more around mental health as I mentioned," but that ultimately, "we do need sensible gun safety laws in the United States of America."
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