David Broder took Democrats to task for allowing an incompetent like Harry Reid to rise to party leadership, pointing out several of the Senator’s foolish foibles as examples. This column sent the netroots into a tizzy, with many of them declaring Broder as irrelevant and past his expiration date. The Senate Democratic caucus even sent him a letter, signed by all 50 members, extolling the virtues of Reid and lauding his “straight talk” — apparently all endorsing the notion that we have lost the war in Iraq.
Today, Editor & Publisher caught up Broder, who has no intention of retracting his remarks:
David Broder said he wouldn’t change anything in his April 26 column, which angered many readers and caused 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to write a letter criticizing Broder in Friday’s Washington Post.
In that Thursday piece, Broder criticized Harry Reid for saying the Iraq War is lost militarily, compared Reid to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and concluded: “The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.”
“I still think the Democrats can do better, and should do better,” said Broder, when reached today by E&P. … Broder told E&P that he was “astonished and delighted” that 50 Democratic senators “spontaneously” came up with the letter (adding that he was being “tongue-in-cheek”).
The letter was something of a non-sequitur. His criticism wasn’t that Reid spoke his mind, but that he put his foot in his mouth when he did. Declaring a war “lost” while American troops are still fighting — and making progress — reveals a hysterical streak that doesn’t reflect well on leadership. As Broder pointed out in the column, not even the people who signed the letter would defend what Reid said, instead trying to use Clintonian word parsing to make it appear that Harry Reid had not just capitulated to terrorists in Anbar and Baghdad. Calling the President a “loser” may make the netroots swoon with delight, but it hardly makes for a professional atmosphere between Congress and the White House.
Also, the final argument that Democrats made in defending Reid is simply hilarious. They applaud the fact that he passed a budget bill, and noted only that “great strides” had been taken on everything else. Granted, the Republicans refused to do it themselves after the midterms, preferring to let the Democrats deal with it, but every Congress passes budget bills; the 109th did it, too. If that’s the threshold for excellence in Washington, then there can be no such thing as mediocrity. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations!
Broder had to have laughed himself silly at that letter, and the Democrats had to be silly to write it. Is the Senate Democratic Caucus so sensitive that it must write group letters every time they receive criticism? No wonder these people want to run away from the terrorists in Iraq. They can’t even abide David Broder and the Washington Post opinion section.
UPDATE: It’s “The soft bigotry of low expectations.” I didn’t quote it properly, but thanks to CQ reader Susan, I’ve corrected it now.