August 31, 2007

Harry Getting Desperate

August recesses seem to have some magical quality this year that drives legislators towards compromise. In Iraq, the absence of a legislative session allowed Nouri al-Maliki to reach an agreement on key political reforms with Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish leadership. As a result, Harry Reid now wants an agreement with dissident Republicans before he finds himself on the losing end of the Petraeus report, and he's willing to trade down out of desperation:

Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.

Reid acknowledged that his previous firm demand for a spring withdrawal deadline had become an obstacle for a small but growing number of Republicans who have said they want to end the war but have been unwilling to set a timeline.

"I don't think we have to think that our way is the only way," Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. "I'm not saying, 'Republicans, do what we want to do.' Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do."

Reid's unwavering stance this summer earned him critics who said he was playing politics by refusing to bargain with antiwar Republicans. In the interview, he said that his goal remains an immediate return of U.S. troops but that now is the time to work with the GOP. He cited bringing up legislation after Labor Day that would require troops to have more home leave, forcing military leaders to reduce troop levels, a measure that has drawn some Republican support.

Shailagh Murray details the long and laughable line of Reid's miscalculations on the war. First, he and Nancy Pelosi took 108 days to get a supplemental funding bill passed, hoping to pressure the White House into ordering a withdrawal that Congress could easily have accomplished by defunding the mission. Instead, with time running out, Congress passed exactly what Bush wanted. Then Reid decided to pull an all-nighter, which turned into a debacle when Republicans actually showed up for it and spent more time on the floor than Reid did, arguing against an early withdrawal.

The final straw for Reid came when he dropped the war debate entirely. He figured that Iraq would get worse and the pressure on Republicans would increase. Unfortunately, Reid miscalculated again. The end of the debate gave the surge some breathing space, and the perception of its success got shaped by actual facts and news rather than Democrat spin.

Now Reid wants to cut a deal, and he's desperate to get it done while he has any credibility left at all. He's broken from his hard-line stance about timetables for withdrawal, and now he's just talking about using back-door methods to get modest troop reductions with no firm date at all to end the mission. After Petraeus reports to Congress on the military progress from the surge and on the political reform agreement engineered by Maliki, Reid will have little standing to declare the war "lost" as he did just a few months ago.

He could pick up some Republicans at the margins. John Warner wants to see a 5,000-troop reduction by Christmas as a token to show that we won't be there forever, even if he has no idea by his own admission which troops should leave and what functions should be abandoned. However, given his actions and rhetoric all year long, few Republicans have any reason to trust Reid or to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. Just as in dating, desperation does not attract interest.


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Comments (33)

Posted by FedUp | August 31, 2007 7:25 AM

Harry is a pathetic joke and should step down - too bad he probably won't get voted out of his pork-rich seat!

Posted by Bill Hennessy | August 31, 2007 7:32 AM

That's one of the Democrats' favorite tricks when they find themselves sawing off the branch they're sitting on: grab a Republican to break the fall.

I hope the Republicans are wise enough to leave him twisting in the wind.

Posted by Michael J. Myers | August 31, 2007 7:46 AM

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is one of my favorite Christmas song lines; throw a little more mesquite charcoal on for Harry so he can get properly grilled. What a useless twit!

Posted by Rovin | August 31, 2007 8:50 AM


A new Zogby Poll says that 54 percent of Americans believe Iraq is not a lost cause. However, the mainstram media have so far not managed to report much if anything on the startling new poll.

A majority of Americans - 54% - believe the United States has not lost the war in Iraq, but there is dramatic disagreement on the question between Democrats and Republicans, a new UPI/Zogby Interactive poll shows. While two in three Democrats (66%) said the war effort has already failed, just 9% of Republicans say the same.

Can it now be said that the Democrats are so invested in failure they will put their political ambitions ahead of what is the best course for this nation and the people of Iraq? Maybe another "change in direction" is in play----like replacing Reid,Pelosi,Murtha, et all, and the weakness within their party. Wonder where the blue-dog Dems fell into this poll?

Posted by Immolate | August 31, 2007 9:23 AM

Is it too late for the Democrats to snatch victory from the jaw of defeat and, after considering the implications of Patraeus' report next month, come out with a mature, well-considered alternative plan for victory? I realize that would assume a substantial risk of being referred to as "pro-American", but some things are worth the risk.

Personally, I come from the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school, but the gesture would still make an impression.

Posted by tgharris | August 31, 2007 10:05 AM

Reid and Co. are painting themselves into a smaller and smaller corner. Why give them any help when they've already demonstrated that their political fortunes take precedence over this country's well-being?

The time is coming for those on Capitol Hill to make a choice....personal politics, or victory. And if the Zogby poll is correct, the American people seem to paying attention.

Posted by LYNNDH | August 31, 2007 10:09 AM

I am afraid that some so-called Republican "leaders" will join Harry R. because they think it will keep getting them elected. No backbone and no loyalty.

Posted by Dennis Clark | August 31, 2007 10:28 AM

If you truely want to reduce deployments for the troops now engaged and you want to give them more time stateside to R&R and train for more effective combat ops. You need to expand our forces. Congress knows this, congress needs to be called on this. It is there monkey and they must feed it. They speak about going into Darfur, and Pakistan-- they will need to increase the Army by 300K and the other services in proportion.

Truth is they will not. They want to loose.

Posted by Rovin | August 31, 2007 10:34 AM

"I don't think we have to think that our way is the only way," Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. "I'm not saying, 'Republicans, do what we want to do.' Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do." ........Harry Reid

Say what? Can some one translate this for me?

Posted by j | August 31, 2007 10:50 AM

Zero negotiations by Republicans. Finally, Reid is being seen for what he is: a sham, anti-American, etc. Republicans should hold firm, period.

Yes, we need to increase the size of our military but that's an actitivity for another day.

Today, Mr. McConnell, hold firm, don't negotiate, give the president and our soldiers what then need.

Posted by Patrick | August 31, 2007 11:26 AM

What amazes me so far is not that the Dmeocrats have done or said thigns I dislike, but how breathtakingly incomepteant they've been. This goes way beyond even the normal incompetance I exect from most organization, to a point near total loss. They've never understood that Bush primarily keeps winning by merely letting them exhaust themselves. Bluster Bluster, Fluster, and - drop!

Posted by Timothy | August 31, 2007 1:09 PM

>" require troops to have more home leave, forcing military leaders to reduce troop levels"

Um, require troops take involuntary vacations?

When my brothers in arms leave, then I leave and not before then. My troops under me also get on the plane before I do. As a senior NCO, I was pleased to be the last one home after Desert Storm.

This is yet another good example of why America's leaders should have military experience.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | August 31, 2007 2:02 PM

CE: "However, given his [Reid's] actions and rhetoric all year long, few Republicans have any reason to trust Reid or to pull his chestnuts out of the fire."

Exactly. While Reid is begging for a lifesaver for his neck, the Republicans should respond by letting his policy become his albatross. What a contemptible man is Reid. Months and months of effort by him to sabotage the mission in Iraq and he has the chutzpah to ask for concessions.

Despite supreme pressure on his and Pelosi's part to coerce Bush to abandon Iraq, no doubt at an expedited rate this summer as it was realized rather early on that a "surge" and more offensive military tactics would be productive, Reid's doubling down failed. So, it turns out that Reid is the miserable failure. Bush wouldn't do Reid's dirty work for him and the "populist" meme of retreat, however parsed, that was advanced was never particularly popular despite the MSM's reportage (aka The Deciders).

No, Reid deserves all of the isolation the Republicans can provide. In fact, cutting and running from Reid would seem appropriate.

Posted by Miguel Guanipa | August 31, 2007 3:36 PM

Reid just wants to feed the fringe left with one hand while holding on to whatever reputation he has left with the moderates. The man has no principles. And no backbone. Of course, he's a Democrat.

Posted by Mark F. | August 31, 2007 4:11 PM

As a Democrat, I've gotta agree with those who say Reid is a spineless, feckless joke. He had a chance to make a real difference, but he just simply lacks the skills. He's let the party and the country down. He and Nancy Pelosi can take a hike together, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Joe | August 31, 2007 4:56 PM

Reid lost me last summer when he was crowing that we had "lost" the war on the same day my 57 year old brother in the Army in Iraq reported to me that he saw tracer rounds at night shoot in between the helicopter he was in and another one nearby.

I'll hate (yes, hate!) Reid forever for putting himself in a position whereby he needs our troops to lose and die in order to get more political power for himself and the rest of the Democrats.

Posted by LDC | August 31, 2007 4:58 PM

Reid qualifies, by virtue of his past comments which gave aid and comfort to our enemies, as a traitor to the country that pays his salary.

Posted by LDC | August 31, 2007 5:04 PM

Reid qualifies, by virtue of his past comments which gave aid and comfort to our enemies, as a traitor to the country that pays his salary.

Posted by John | August 31, 2007 5:19 PM

You guys, ie. Ed, are determined to take the Republican party into 08 with this war around our neck. Reid is not in the least desperate as we seem determined to play into the hands of the Democrats. Well have it your own way. And you'll see what the result is next November. I'm a long time Republican but I'm coming to the conclusion that we have probably got to take a whacking next year to bring us to our senses.

Posted by arch | August 31, 2007 5:24 PM

Dennis Clark has struck a note I know well - end strength. When we were attacked in 1941, we had a military of only 1.4 million. By 1945, we had defeated two enemies and 8.3 million men under arms. When we were attacked in 2001, we had a military of only 1.4 million. By 2003, we had defeated two enemies and had 1.4 million men & women under arms.

Why? Clinton wanted social programs and Bush wanted to transform the military. 60% of military appropriations are for personnel. If you want money out of defense, you must cut people. Clinton reduced end strength from 2.1 million to 1.4, and cancelled every procurement and maintenance program he could. Bush increased the sub $200B Clinton budgets but left manpower at 1.4, paying for new hardware instead of raising end strength.

Bottom Line: We need to go back to a 2.1 million active force and let the Guard & Reserves go home. This will take years and it should have been done in 2001.

Rovin called our attention to the recent Zogby Poll. I think this survey tells us more about the collapse of the media deception about Iraq than about the war itself. The orchestrated rush to surrender by Pelosi and Reid at the behest of MoveOn, Code Pink, DailyKos and ANSWER frightened the media who saw the possibility that the Iraq War will be the next administration's problem or a huge blood bath in the wake of a premature US withdrawal. When the media blinked and began reporting the facts, the democrats saw their worst nightmare - Victory.

Zogby, an Arab American, has been a consistent critic of the Iraq War. I suspect that the real numbers are closer to 70%. No one likes war. Having fought in two, I know first hand. The MSM have told Americans we cannot win. They have been reminded of every death - all of which are tragic. As a WWII war orphan, I understand loss. Americans want to win, and win we will.

There will be losers - Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and all the 2008 democrat presidential candidates. The new Copperheads are toast.


Posted by arch | August 31, 2007 5:31 PM


I was there on 17 March and I will be in DC again on 15 September.

Join me.


Posted by Joe | August 31, 2007 6:14 PM

Arch (see above) is quite correct in his assessment. We just have to have the nerve to fight rather than run. This whole war on terror will take a long time, with many swamps that will need to be drained like our Marines did in the South Pacific during WWII. We'll fight eventually. Why wait until a million Americans are murdered?

Posted by fred | August 31, 2007 6:15 PM

the interesting thing will be watching the kook leftys finally realize what everyone has known for a long time: no matter what reid/pelosi cabal do, there will be an american presence in the middle east and particulary in iraq for a long time. there cannot and will be no precipitous withdrawl. now, the kooks dont believe this;they cant grasp it. cant even visualize it. none of them have served. they have no idea how idiotic what they demand is. but of course all the dems (in congress) knew this; all along. but they had to pretend they would "cut and run" and have no bases and no troops like tomorrow. they HAD to pretend and say this to placate their kooks, which amount to about 25% of the population and 50%(+?) of their party. once the kooks learn what the pols have known all along, the dems are toast. even the kooks will give up on them. that will be beutiful to watch. good luck dems in '08. last time i checked the last dem pres candidate to garner greater than 50% pop vote was jimma C. and that was 50 point ONE (50.1). in the wake of watergate!
i wonder how many electoral votes hillary can get without the kooks. whats the over/under? 175?

Posted by Tom W. | August 31, 2007 6:16 PM

America hates losers. America also loves come-from-behind victories, redemption, and triumph in the face of widespread loss of support.

If it's clear by November of 2008 that we're going to win in Iraq, the party that will pay at the polls will be the Democrats, not the Republicans.

I hope the Repubs have the guts to run ads with nothing but defeatist quotes from Democrat politicians.

Posted by rich | August 31, 2007 6:48 PM

reid,pelosi and murtha as well as nbc,cbs,abc and their cable duplicates should be prcucuted for TREASON!!!!!!

how fast do you think we could win this war if we had some americans in washington????so fast it would blind you!!!!if this country elects a dem next nov.i will be ashamed to call myself an american.i refuse to follow the leftys,they are not leaders they are spineless worms that make me crindge every time their names are printed or spoken.anybody seen ronnie???i seroiusly would rather hang with him wherever he is than stay with these worthless hacks on the makes me ashamed to be an american.

Posted by docjim505 | August 31, 2007 7:39 PM

Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.

Calling Senator Warner, Senator Graham, Senator McCain. Calling Senator Warner, Senator Graham, Senator McCain. Democrats need friendly Republicans to bail them out again. Please call Senator (gag) Reid immediately.

Posted by arch | August 31, 2007 8:03 PM

No matter what happens in the Middle East, I will never loose faith in the American people.

I may be very disappointed, as I was in 1975, when we let our Vietnamese and Cambodian allies to perish. As I was in 1979 when we let the Shah of Iran flee the nation he worked to build and die of cancer. As I was when Les Aspen let our Rangers be dragged through the dirt streets of Mogadishu rather than commit armor to the fight. As I was in the 1990s when we let radical islam hit the World Trade Center, Kohbar Towers, the US Embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole.

If you doubt the nobile motives of America, ask an Eastern European.

Posted by jme | September 1, 2007 1:56 AM


You may not like his immigration stance, but Senator McCain is the *strongest* supporter of the surge in Congress and the presidential race. His resolve has been utterly steadfast and will not wither. Watch some C-SPAN in September, or just about any clip on Youtube of McCain talking about the surge.

Unfortunately, we do have to worry about Senator Warner bailing out Reid.

Posted by docjim505 | September 1, 2007 8:37 AM


Three words:

Gang of Fourteen.

Posted by mark | September 1, 2007 9:35 AM

Harry Reid is not an articulate man. Nor has he proven himself to be an effective leader.

That being said, I'm amazed to read the comments that I see here. There were always people who up until the end of our twenty year (and 58,000 lives) committment in Vietnam believed that "victory was just around the corner".

Folks, we are going on five years of a committment in that shithole called Iraq and what do we have to show for it? According to the General Accounting Office, almost nothing. Only three of eighteen benchmarks set by Congress last time they reluctantly gave George Bush his funding to continue this war have been met.

Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki runs an ineffective government that is starting to thumb its nose in our face. Al Maliki is clearly making no effort to pass an oil law or any other law that might bring reconciliation to his country. It shouldn't surprise anyone. Al Maliki doesn't represent a united Iraq. He simply represents the Shiites in the country. When Al Maliki is called on his shit, he goes out of his way to make it clear that he is in charge and will do as he damn well pleases. The war in Iraq can't be won solely by military means and there is no will to politically do what is necessary to win it.

Rational people realize that a 9/11 may happen again whether we succeed in Iraq or not. No connections have ever been proven. And, I'm not interested in someone's paranoid ravings that insist such a connection exists when even the President admits its not there.

The money we are spending in Iraq could be better used to beef up Homeland Security right here in the US. Its time to set a date and start bringing the troops home.

Posted by joelunchpail | September 1, 2007 11:12 AM

What business does the GAO have in assessing matters of this nature anyway?

Posted by anna f | September 2, 2007 5:34 AM

GAO has total business in the spending of taxpayer's money, fool!

Posted by joelunchpail | September 2, 2007 10:09 AM

the benchmarks are political not financial

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