The House Debates on Iraq. But Who's Listening? While Congress has been debating the Iraq resolution this week, the audience for their discussion has been an open question. In Florida, some have been paying attention to this policy discussion on Capitol Hill — and some haven't.
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The House Debates on Iraq. But Who's Listening?

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The House Debates on Iraq. But Who's Listening?

The House Debates on Iraq. But Who's Listening?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

As the House continues its discussions and the Senate gets ready to perhaps take up Iraq again, a larger debate is going on around the country on whether continuing the war is the correct policy.

NPR's Greg Allen spoke with people in Miami about whether they're following the debate or watching on TV.

GREG ALLEN: At Coral Reef Park in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay, Lee Roy Pedis(ph) is a tennis instructor. After lessons, Pedis said he's been busy with tennis and other things, and hasn't watched any of the debate on TV. He says he has been following what's been going on, though, and he doesn't support the president's plan to send additional troops to Iraq.

Mr. LEE ROY PEDIS: It's a war we never should have gotten into. We can't win. There's now way we can win. So, cut your losses, and stop it, and do whatever you have to do, but get the boys home, and, you know, and try make world peace. And there's never always going to be world peace, but we don't need to be dying. We need to be taking care of ourselves first, then, maybe, you know, help other people. But I think it's just another Vietnam fiasco.

ALLEN: Elsewhere in the park, Lou Patrilla(ph) was sitting on the bench at the playground, keeping an eye on his granddaughter. Patrilla was a former bank president, now retired. He hasn't watched any of it on C-SPAN. But this week's debate is important, he says, and it shouldn't be misconstrued as a lessening of support for the troops.

Mr. LOU PATRILLA: You know, being a former serviceman is that you want a support from your fellow Americans, you want to know they're there. We're here for them. There's no denying that. I don't think any member of Congress is not supporting their troops. What the hell are we doing here? When is enough, enough?

ALLEN: On the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, it's lunchtime. At the outdoor pool, students are sunbathing. Just next door, sophomore Sophia Moss(ph) is having lunch with some friends. Moss is a history and international relations major, and like all her friends at the table, she's another who hasn't watched any of this week's debate. But she's very aware of it and she doesn't like it. She thinks the measure doesn't go far enough.

Ms. SOPHIA MOSS: This is kind of irresponsible of the Democrats, after we've, you know, giving them Congress. And then they promised all of these things, you know, to the constituency, and they haven't able to deliver anything other than some kind of, you know, symbolic action.

ALLEN: Along Main Highway in Coconut Grove, tables from restaurants and cafés crowd the sidewalk. It's a gathering place for visitors and also locals, like Devon Cedeo(ph), who's on his way to Starbucks with his two kids, Madeline, age six, and Charlie, age four.

Mr. DEVON CEDEO: I listen to NPR and watch Fox News. I watch CNN, the whole gambit. Madeline, come out of there, please.

ALLEN: Cedeo is an attorney, and like everyone else I spoke with, he hasn't taken time out from his daily schedule to watch this week's debate. But he is well versed in the nuances of the conflict in Iraq - supporting the president and the decision to send more troops. But he says that doesn't mean he's happy about the war.

Mr. CEDEO: Yeah. I think a lot of people are upset with the war. I think a lot of people are upset with the way things are handled. But the fact is we're in there, and I think that some kind of exit without real management thought involved is going to be worse.

ALLEN: Although he calls himself a conservative, Cedeo thinks those who oppose holding the debate while we're engaged in a war are wrong. This week's debate in the House is useful, he says, in that he believes it will help policy makers find a middle ground on Iraq, that most Americans can live with.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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