After an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Thursday night, Democrats were left searching for a way to criticize the president for taking out a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans over the years.
Soleimani's death is unanimously acknowledged as a severe blow to Iran, as Soleimani was a figure of immense military and political authority. He was also indisputably a terrorist and an enemy of the United States who was an active threat to the lives of Americans in the Middle East.
So, Democrats attempted to toe a fine line, which can be summarized as: "Soleimani was a murderous, evil, terrorist who deserved to die, but...."
From Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war."
And former Vice President Joe Biden: "[Soleimani] deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region. He supported terror and sowed chaos. None of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region. … President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox…"
Wendy Sherman, onetime under secretary of state for political affairs for former President Barack Obama, said the Obama administration didn't go after Soleimani because they understood what the consequences were: "There will be terrible, terrible reprisals. They will likely happen in the Middle East, but they could happen really anywhere in the world."
Perhaps the clearest example that President Trump would be criticized no matter what comes from Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.
After violent protests by an Iran-backed militia at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq earlier this week, Murphy blamed Trump for rendering America "impotent" in the Middle East, saying "no one fears us."
Days later, after a powerful show of force against Iran, Murphy was criticizing the president for killing a major enemy in the Middle East.
"[D]id America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?" Murphy wrote on Twitter.