When I met Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in December and had a chance to conduct a lengthy interview, I came away with the impression that, while I might not agree with his approach to every policy issue, he is a genuinely tough guy who, far more often than not, will continue speaking hard truth to the Republican party and the White House. I believe Reid has fulfilled that estimate in his first few months as majority leader, no matter how much he understands that the GOP slime machine will distort every word he says -- and even some that he never said -- to bolster their failed agenda.The latest example began almost immediately after Reid said on the Senate floor that, under the watch of George W. Bush, the Iraq war "is lost." Actually, here's exactly what Reid said on April 19:
"Conditions in Iraq get worse by the day. Now we find ourselves policing another nation's civil war. We are less secure from the many threats to our national security than we were when the war began. As long as we follow the president's path in Iraq, the war is lost.
"But there is still a chance to change course and we must change course. No one wants us to succeed in the Middle East more than I do. But there must be a change of course. Our brave men and women overseas have passed every test with flying colors. They have earned our pride and our praise. More important, they deserve a strategy worthy of their sacrifice."So that's what Reid really said. But what are the Republicans telling people? John Cornyn (R-TX) one of the most onerous of the GOP liars, jumped right at Reid after his statement with this:
"It is now abundantly clear why the Democrat leadership in Congress has been holding hostage the critical funding that our troops need for body armor and weaponry - they simply do not believe our military can win, and they are no longer willing to stand behind them. I think that is both wrong and irresponsible. The Senate Democrat Leader is certainly entitled to his opinion, but his public lack of confidence in our troops is an insult to their deep sacrifice and a sign of encouragement to our terrorist enemies."That's a real Republican two-for-one deal: Cornyn tells people that Reid was being critical of the troops and not Bush and throws in the routine bit about Democrats supporting the terrorists.
Given that the previous, rubber-stamp Republican Congress has their hands stained with the same blood as Bush and Cheney's, and being wholly incapable of accepting blame and showing honesty and integrity, I guess they really have no choice in their limited, filthy playbook, but to make it sound like Reid was criticizing the troops.
It doesn't matter that the record shows the Democratic Leader was slamming the White House and the Republican party and not the military itself. Nor does it make any difference to them that every statement made on the war by congressional Democrats has included phrases about the troops like "done everything we've asked of them" and "performed bravely and honorably," as the GOP smear machine still cranks out its version of reality.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dipped into his mud bucket and tried to make it sound like Reid's desire to get the troops out of the middle of a civil war -- one that has nothing to do with our country -- must be devastating to their moral.
"I can't begin to imagine how our troops in the field, who are risking their lives every day, are going to react when they get back to base and hear that the Democrat Leader of the United States Senate has declared the war is lost," whined McConnell. "I can't begin to imagine what their families will think."
And no matter how much he knows that Republicans cling to his every word hoping they can find anything to spin as him being the Iraq war version of Tokyo Rose, Reid has had it up to his eyeballs with Bush's Iraq quagmire, the death it is bringing to American families and the extent to which it has made our country demonstrably less safe.
Reid also knows that he is speaking for the vast majority of the American people when he persists in telling the truth about the status of our involvement in Iraq's civil war.
Whether it is in the lies that took America there to begin with or the utter incompetence with which the Bush administration has performed every, single facet of this foreign policy disaster, the Iraq war is indeed lost -- and come election day in 2008, the American people will show how right Reid was in saying it.
When it became clear to all thinking Americans that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that their WMD claims were an utter fabrication, Team Bush made their story du jour that they were doing all of this to build a stable democracy in the Middle East.
Yeah, that's the ticket. And they've failed to have that come true as well.
And take a look at this lovely ad just released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in which they deliberately take Reid's words out of context and use them to smear Democratic senators running for reelection in 2008:
That one targeted Tom Harkin (D-IA) but identical ads have been produced hitting Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and others going before voters again next year. In a show of how desperate the NRSC is for material, they actually cite propagandist Michelle Malkin's blog as the source of most of their "evidence" of Democrats tanking morale among the troops.
None of this should come as any surprise to the American people. This is the same Republican party that swiftboated John Kerry and who viciously smeared Max Cleland, who had three limbs blown off in Vietnam, by placing him next to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in television ads for the 2002 Georgia Senate election.
They heaped filth on one of their own in going after John McCain's family in 2000 and in 1988 attacked Kitty Dukakis, when the Willie Horton ads weren't damaging enough to her husband, Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis.
This is what they do. But their attacks on Reid and his truthful statement about the status of the Iraq war will come back to haunt them.
The majority of Americans are beyond agreeing with Reid that the war is "lost" as of April of 2007, with most thinking that we never should have gone to Iraq to begin with. This confirms the prevailing public opinion that the war was never ours to win. Two-thirds of the American people agree with Harry Reid and don't like their loyalty and patriotism being slimed any more than does Reid or other Democrats.
The people who are truly lost are the 33 percent or so who watch Fox News, approve of the job being done by the worst president in U.S. history and cling with fear to the notion that the Chickenhawk-in-Chief has done anything to make them more safe.
Most Americans know the truth as spoken by Senator Reid and, if the scumbags in the Republican party don't know it now, they'll damn sure find out on November 4, 2008.
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.