House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took aim at Dick Cheney on Tuesday after the former vice president's recent criticism of President Obama, saying the Bush administration's handling of Afghanistan forced the president to take his time deciding on a new strategy for the war-torn country.
"They started something," Hoyer said of the Bush administration, his voice rising during his weekly press conference.
In an interview with Politico that ran Tuesday, Cheney claimed the president is projecting "weakness" and was "agonizing" about selecting a new blueprint to fight the war in Afghanistan.
"Here's a guy without much experience, who campaigned against much of what we put in place ... and who now travels around the world apologizing," Cheney told the newspaper. "I think our adversaries -- especially when that's preceded by a deep bow ... -- see that as a sign of weakness."
"Frankly, they turned tail," Hoyer responded. "I get pretty angry when I hear the vice president talk about something they didn't finish."
Hoyer's comments come just hours before President Obama is poised to announce plans to send more than 30,000 additional military personnel Afghanistan. Hoyer defended Mr. Obama for deciding to dispatch more troops to Afghanistan during his first year in office.
But Hoyer's verbal sparring with the former vice president could only pale in comparison to the internecine warfare that could erupt inside the House Democratic Caucus. Hoyer concedes that House Democrats are jittery about America's future in Afghanistan.
"There is significant concern about whether we can be successful," said Hoyer of his fellow Democrats.
Some conservative Democrats argue that the troop additions might not be enough to bolster the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. And liberal Democrats fret that a surge of troops is the wrong approach.
Many liberal Democrats argue that some voters elected Obama to change course in Iraq and Afghanistan. They see an infusion of troops as a repeat what they interpret as the same mistakes made by the president's predecessor.
"We are clearly not making the same decision the Bush administration made," Hoyer said.
House Democrats are also toying with the idea of a "war surtax" proposed by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wis. Hoyer told reporters "we haven't discussed it at length."
But the leader seemed open to crafting some sort of funding mechanism to pay for the war.
"I'm generally in favor of paying for what we do," Hoyer said.