Be sure to read the updates.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed his support for the American military by calling two of its top leaders "incompetent". Pandering to liberal bloggers, Reid made the comments in explaining his strategy to make Republican Senators sick of voting on the Iraq war and bludgeoning them into declaring defeat:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "incompetent" during an interview Tuesday with a group of liberal bloggers, a comment that was never reported.
Reid made similar disparaging remarks about Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said several sources familiar with the interview.
This is but the latest example of how Reid, under pressure from liberal activists to do more to stop the war, is going on the attack against President Bush and his military leaders in anticipation of a September showdown to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, according to Democratic senators and aides.
Reid, who was bashed by Republicans for suggesting earlier this year that the Iraq war was "lost," is lashing out at top commanders while putting the finishing touches on a plan to force a series of votes on Iraq designed exclusively to make Republicans up for reelection in 2008 go on record in favor of continuing an unpopular war.
So Harry Reid, the man who couldn't get a supplemental spending bill completed in less than 108 days, is calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.
That's the same Harry Reid who couldn't get the Democrats' "100 Hours" pledges to fruition in over 120 days and counting. In fact, this is the same Majority Leader that has led the least-accomplished session of Congress in a generation.
And just for the record, it's the same Harry Reid who insisted that he would never bring back the immigration bill if it failed its cloture test -- and then tried for a second cloture, declaring that also a "final" action -- and lost again.
That's the man calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.
UPDATE: I almost forgot -- the same Harry Reid who voted to confirm Petraeus in January! (h/t: CQ commenter brainy435)
UPDATE II and BUMP: John McCain takes Reid to the woodshed:
It's incredibly disappointing that Harry Reid would make such disparaging remarks about both the highest ranking officer in the U.S military and the commander of our troops in Iraq. Generals Pace and Petraeus are two leaders who have spent their entire lives in service to their country and Senator Reid needs to clarify his criticisms, which can only be described as highly inappropriate and regrettable.
Besides, if the Senate Majority Leader thinks that two top military officials and Presidential appointments have shown incompetence, shouldn't he initiate impeachment proceedings? Or does Harry believe that he should leave American troops in the command of incompetent commanders?
UPDATE III: Greg Sargent says The Politico got this one out of thin air:
The story has already sparked an uproar, and the conservatives have jumped all over it. It was linked on Drudge, and John McCain sent out a press release attacking Reid over it. And White House press secretary Tony Snow use it to hammer Reid as anti-military in today's White House briefing. Snow brought up the Politico story himself, saying that it was "outrageous" for Reid to be "issuing slanders" toward commanders "in a time of war."
But we've just spoken with three of the prominent liberal bloggers who say they were on the call, and they all say they don't remember Reid saying anything like this. One flatly denies that he said it.
We'll see. I'm thinking that John Bresnahan wound up with a recording of the call, but if not, he'll have to establish some credibility on this.
UPDATE IV: I contacted John Bresnahan directly. He said that The Politico would not have any further statement on this story. He told me that he and The Politico stand behind the original reporting on the subject.
Here’s exactly what Reid said:
“I guess the president, uh, he’s gotten rid of Pace because he could not get him confirmed here in the Senate… Pace is also a yes-man for the president and I told him to his face, I laid it out to him last time he came to see me, I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.”…
Sounds like Bresnahan had it right. One could also interpret that as Reid told Bush he was incompetent, but it doesn't flow with the quote. I'd say Sargent owes Bresnahan an apology.
UPDATE VI and BUMP: "Three or four" of Sargent's sources couldn't confirm Bresnahan's story, and so it was supposedly false. How about if Harry Reid confirms it?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers last week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is "incompetent."
Reid acknowledged similarly disparaging Army Gen. David Petraeus, head of Multinational Forces in Iraq.
But Reid, whose comments to bloggers first appeared in The Politico, also told reporters: "I think we should just drop it."
I'll bet he does. I'll bet Greg Sargent thinks so as well. How could all of the bloggers who sat on this call miss this quote, and then so vociferously deny Reid said it? I'd say they all owe Bresnahan an apology. (h/t: CQ readers Del Dolemonte and Steven Den Beste)