WASHINGTON – Lynne Cheney had a history lesson for elementary school children Tuesday, likening this week's parliamentary elections in Iraq to America's own early struggle for democracy.
"Two hundred and seventeen years ago, we held our first vote under our Constitution," Vice President Dick Cheney's wife said. "We started then on the path the Iraqis are walking now."
Mrs. Cheney was the latest Bush administration figure sent to marshal support for the United States' Iraq policy. She was speaking to elementary school children at two Washington-area military installations — the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., and at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Cheney said it was important to talk to school children about Thursday's elections, in which Iraqis are electing a 275-member National Assembly, which will legislate in the coming four years and choose the first fully constitutional government in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the U.S.-led war which started in early 2003.
The elections also pave the way for amendments to Iraq's new constitution. To win Sunni Arab support for the constitution, the Sunnis were promised they could propose amendments to it during the first four months of the new parliament's tenure. Cheney said that was "a very important historical parallel" with America's early democratic struggle.
"We did much the same thing in terms of our Constitution," Cheney said in an interview on CNN. "Many were reluctant to ratify (it) until they were told there would be amendments. ... So there are indeed many parallels and I look forward to talking with kids about it."