John McCain

Senator Br'er Rabbit (D-Nev.)

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Sen. Harry Reid, 2005:

I like Harriet Miers. As White House Counsel, she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner. I am also impressed with the fact that she was a trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and as the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association.

Sen. Harry Reid, 2006:

If it's for a surge, that is, for two or three months and it's part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I'll go along with it.

The latter statement by the incoming Senate majority leader is getting some attention (at least whenever the cable channels can pry their feeds off the incredible story of danger-seekers who encountered danger). Is the top Democrat on the Hill really buying into the idea that we need to send more troops to Iraq? Has John McCain convinced everyone of the rightness of a Surge, through sheer force of maverickism?

I wonder why more people don't remember that Reid has a habit for endorsing terrible Republican ideas. In the Miers case, it was pretty clear he wanted to avoid the White House yanking Miers and nominating a stronger, more conservative nominee. In this case, it's possible he enjoys the idea of hanging a doomed idea—One! Last! Push!— supported by a small number of Americans around the necks of George Bush and John McCain.

There is an obvious conclusion to all this: Harry Reid is dumb. And there is a less obvious conclusion: Harry Reid is a genius.

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  1. Gee Dave maybe it is because Reid now has something you have never and thank God never will have; responsibility. Maybe he doesn’t really like the idea of signing off on defeat while he is majority leader in the Senate. Or maybe, he knows a few things you don’t know. Since you didn’t bother to put any content into your post but just assume that every right thinking person agrees with you, I don’t have a lot of faith that you know much of anything, so I am betting on the latter.

  2. If Harry Reid clearly wants people like David Weigel to stay after people like John and I think he is having an outcome like successful at a blog like HnR.

  3. Sam, what?

  4. I’m leaning toward genius. The worst thing Dems could do is take that tar baby from the arms of Dubya.

  5. Hard to imagine any elected officials that smart and cunning, and yet…

  6. Reid went after the mafia when he was on the Gaming Commision in Vegas — so I wouldn’t count him an idiot. But as MattD5 says, it is hard to accept any of these knuckleheads as smart or cunning.

  7. Maybe he doesn’t really like the idea of signing off on defeat while he is majority leader in the Senate.
    Actually sounds more like shirking responsibility to me.

  8. John,

    Allow me to say what David apparently didn’t think was necessary to point out:

    The sectarian conflicts in Iraq are 1400 years old, for all intents and purposes. First, it is foolish to think we could solve these conflicts, whether we have 50k troops or 500k troops. Given that: secondly, the thought that we could “win this thing” if only we had another 25k troops is…well…it’s fucking patently absurd on so many levels so as to be unnecessary for David to point out.

    People like you are so goddamned intent on “winning” and making sure we don’t have any egg on our face, but the fact of the matter is, this thing has been a fools errand from the get-go, and “winning” has never been a realistic goal. The unfortunate reality of Iraq is that these sects have been fighting for a long, long, long time, and the only thing that kept them in relative check was a tyrant like Hussein. Now that he’s gone, we have this ridiculously naive thought that we can fix these age-old sectarian conflicts with, um, guns, tanks, and the abstract ideal of “DEMOCRACY?!”

    It’s a foolish and ignorant neocon-driven foray, and it’s simply bound to fail. As such, the idea that the reason it’s not working is that we’re 25,000 troops short, is so weak as to not even entertain the thought.

    But, yeah, complain because David neglected to point out the extremely obvious.

  9. In this case, it’s possible he enjoys the idea of hanging a doomed idea – One! Last! Push!

    You guys are over thinking this.

    After lettin Republicans galvanize the idea that Democrats are soft on defense, Reid & company are signing on for the same reason they rolled over on the war.

    Simply put, they don’t want to look like pussies.

  10. Yea he’s probably just playing politics. There are still people (I guess like John) that actually thinks this war can be won. So he’s probably thinking, give’em the troops that they want, make Bush dig a even deeper hole, and it’ll only become more obvious by ’08 that the war can’t be won. Then no one will vote for a republican.

    This is why I hate both parties. They think of their party before thinking of the country, all those soldiers they’re sending to their deaths on this hopeless cause, and all the money they’re throwing away.

  11. “they don’t want to look like pussies”

    Especially the junior Senator from New York.

  12. Call me a probable idiot with only a slight possibility of being a genius if you like, but…..

    I don’t think the surge thing is such a bad idea if it is coupled with a dipomatic program that includes either a timetable or a set of objectives for witdrawal. What strategic harm could more troops do (besides further inflaming Iraqi public opinion against increased US military involvement, which should be offset if there is a credible statement indicating that the US will leave in the forseeable future)?

    To the groups fighting the US only because they want us to leave, we could say “Look, you know when we’re going to leave and fighting us will not make us leave sooner. So the best thing to do is to cooperate with us so in the mean time we can go after terrorists and death squads.”

    Secular nationalist insurgent groups would have a greater incentive to enter the political process and avoid fighting the US. And the coalition could really crack down on al-qaeda and similiar groups with significantly higher troop levels. They would also probably have more available resources to train the Iraqi army, which would probably need to have more secular sunni-nationalist involvement and try harder to avoid sectarian partiality.

    We have to worry about al-Sadr and various other aspiring theocrats who want an Iran-style mullocracy(is this a word?). Hopefully we could deal with this issue though diplomacy and get them to back off on that somewhat. However, if a full-scale military confrontation is necessary, it would certainly be easier with more troops.

    Also it may be appropriate to have a specific long-run policy towards the Kurdish Autonomous Zone that is distinct from our policy towards the rest of the country.

    Obviously there are alot more details than I’ve covered and nothing is garunteed to work (whatever working means). But the surge idea , with qualifications described above, doesn’t seem too bad to me.

  13. BG, you points are ones I consider myself. But there are two things that keep coming back to me.

    1. There’s an awful lot of “ifs” in there.

    2. Bush’s pattern has been to follow bad advice and throw good things after bad out of little more than stubborness and lack of vision.

    I wholeheartedly agree that leaving Iraq would likely be pretty bad. But the reality is, we finally have some leverage over Iran and the Saudi’s. They don’t want us to leave because of the ramifications for them.

    If Bush’s plan is to continue belligerant non-negotiation with Iran and appeasement of the Saudi’s without leveraging our advantages to get their cooperation, there’s little point in staying ’cause it’ll suck either way.

    But what do I know…I’m just a crank.

  14. Wasn’t the point of electing these socialists that they were going to end the war? Or does Weigel LIKE trade restrictions, higher taxes and socialised health care? What is he celebrating?

    If the war will continue until 2008, why toss the legislature to the Left in 2006?

    Again, what is David Weigel celebrating?

  15. Again, what is David Weigel celebrating?

    Even more importantly, what is Sam Franklin smoking?

    Can I have some?

  16. The worst thing Dems could do is take that tar baby from the arms of Dubya.

    Because all that matters is hurting the Republicans, even if it also means hurting this country and others around the globe.

    Reid is a Senator. He is, therefor, more likely to get hit by a meteor from outer space than be a genius of any kind.

  17. madpad

    True indeed.

    As I understand, Bush is planning to announce his new policy on Iraq, in light of the Iraq Study Group Report, early 2007. Hopefully it will include diplomacy with Iraq’s neighbors and/or within Iraq. Or a clear statement of when, or under what circumstances, witdrawal will occur. Or something that could concievably be a significant change for the better.

  18. Because all that matters is hurting the Republicans, even if it also means hurting this country and others around the globe.

    As opposed to the GOP who only put the good of the country first and foremost…

    I don’t see why, when Bush has already declared himself the ultimate decider of all matters Iraq, would Dems even waste their breath discussing options for Bush to do in Iraq. They only control the purse strings and they aren’t going to defund this thing.

    The only thing they really can do is play politics — and give Bush the rope to hang himself and his party along with it. It’s not as if Bush would take Reid or any other Dems position seriously as an option, unless it validates his own position (see Lieberman, Joe).

    The reality of the situation is that more likely than not our troops will still be in Iraq come the ’09 inauguration. If its a Dem president, then that person will have the ability to call for a withdrawl since all other options (even the “more troops”) will have been tried and failed.

    Let’s not forget that many GOPers still maintain that Vietnam was won in ’72, it’s just the cut-n-runners who lost their nerve that made us lose. (see Kissinger, Henry). So this is a smart political move by Reid. Knowing he can’t really affect the President’s decisions he does the next best thing…if Bush does decide to “surge” Iraq, Reid helps the Decider hang himself and allows the country to see just how disastrous the GOP policies are while providing cover for the next president to pull back out troops and avoid the “cowardly cut-n-runner” label.

  19. The latter statement by the incoming Senate majority leader is getting some attention…

    Where? DailyKos?

  20. I suppose I could answer my own question?

    Weigel is celebrating becuase he believes Reid is enhancing the chances for the Dems in 2008.

    Why should I, or any libertarian or free-market conservative, care?

    Weigel is a hack. He used to hack for Republicans, and now he hacks for Democrats. He used to hack for conservatives, and now he hacks, ostensibly, for libertarians…and really for liberals.

    Weigel is a hack such as to make Jonah Goldberg look like Aristotle, the commenter “joe” look like James Madison.

  21. Dave,

    Keep poking John with the stick. It’s funny.

    But seriously, even in the unlikely event that Reid is being forthright, he still isn’t “buying into the idea that we need to send more troops to Iraq.” He’s saying he could “go along with that,” if it will get our troops out of Iraq.

    For example, if declaring John the greatest military genius of all time is part of a plan to stop him from posting on Hit and Run, sure, I could go along with it. Guess what statement I didn’t just agree with?

  22. BG,

    I’m not sure how long you’ve been opposed to this war, but there was a lesson that those of who oppposed it from the beginning learned back then:

    This isn’t Ken Pollack’s war. This isn’t Juan Cole’s war. This isn’t the war of any intelligent, capable, reality-based person. This is George W. Bush’s war, and George W. Bush is a delusional idiot more interested in his reputation as a tough guy than in anything else.

    Even if you can come up with a reasonable, realistic strategy for fighting this war, that isn’t a reason to support it, because it isn’t your reasonable, realistic ideas that will be implemented. Instead, what would be implemented are the type of suicidally moronic feel-good stunts that get people like John (and Andrew, back in the day) all wound up and crowing about what heroic geniuses they are for being taken in by them.

    Maybe, if there was something approaching a decent, capable leadership in the White House and Pentagon, a surge of troops would be part of a good strategy, but there isn’t. More troops for George W. Bush to push around his table top is just going to mean more of our troops being pushed around by George Bush.

  23. As I understand, Bush is planning to announce his new policy on Iraq, in light of the Iraq Study Group Report, early 2007. Hopefully it will include diplomacy with Iraq’s neighbors and/or within Iraq. Or a clear statement of when, or under what circumstances, witdrawal will occur. Or something that could concievably be a significant change for the better.

    Hope springs eternal.

  24. BG,

    Suppose we’ve eliminated every secular nationalist insurgents. And suppose we’ve successfully dealt with Iran, Syria, etc. diplomatically so that no other nation will interfere with Iraq. What are we doing about the Sunnis and Shiites that want to exterminate each other? What are we doing about this civil war? You think you can deal with this “politically”? Exactly how would you do that? Exactly how would you stop them from wanting to exterminate the other side? This is the core issue. We have no idea, no plan how to do this. More troops is irrelevant to this problem. And without any ideas, without any plans, the Iraqis aren’t going to magically get along one day. The only way military could be relevant is if you kill every Sunnis and Shiites or kill everyone from one faction so there’ll be no civil war. Other than that, there’s nothing the military can do. We don’t know who’s innocent and who’s quilty. And the Iraqis sure as hell aren’t going to snitch on their fellow Iraqis. NO ONE has any idea how to stop this, so don’t pretend that this might somehow be solved. It won’t. And without addressing this, everything else is irrelevant. We could occupy Iraq for 50 years, but as soon as we leave, civil war will commence because we haven’t dealt with their desire for extermination. Saddam’s reign of terror didn’t eliminate this desire for religious extermination. What makes you think US occupation will? As long as we don’t have an idea how to do this, we’re not doing anything to “win” the war. We’re not improving anything because everything else is irrelevant. There is this big cancer in the body and you’re talking about putting a bandaid on your finger for the cut and talking to the school bully to stop interfering. Hey the finger cut is nothing. The bully is just a nuasance. It’s the cancer that’s going to kill you unless you deal with it. And what ideas do you have to treat this cancer? Absolutely none. Other than to put more bandaids. Of course, the sad thing is that now we feel responsible (because we are) for this mess and desperately want to try to fix it. Even if it means sacrificing thousands and thousands of more US soldiers and billions of dollars wasted every week, just so we can put a few more bandaids that will do absolutely nothing to get rid of the cancer. So we can feel better? So we can look tough in our foreign policy? So the Dems can bury the Republicans in ’08? This is just pathetic.

    Tom, the Dems control the Congress now and so they do have the power to cut the funding. If they won’t do it, this tells me that they’re putting partisan politics above what’s best for this country. Or they’re just as hopeless as the Republicans.

  25. OK children!
    I see that none of you are from Nevada. The military is only second to the casino industry in employing Nevadans. Of course Harry is going to support the military. He wants to look good to the local citizenry and keep them on his side!

    Look at a map of Nevada sometime and look at the 98% of its land owned by the government! Where do you think the practice straifing runs, the test bombings and other major destruction of the Nevadan environment comes from? It all benefits Harry!

    Harry has always backed the military.

    Qui Bono Boys!

    Just Ken
    kgregglv@cox.net
    http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/

  26. Ah, so if someone suggested we go invade Britain, Harry would support it just because it benefits his local industry. And you’re saying Nevadans are just as selfish and boneheaded and will support any war too. How sad, if true.

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