April 20th is the two year anniversary that a lot of people in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Read in particular, would as soon forget. Two years ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war in Iraq to be lost.
“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and – you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows – (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid said at the time.
Two years later, with the war in Iraq all but won, a fact acknowledged recently by President Barack Obama in Iraq, what is one to make of Senate Reid’s confident declaration of defeat?
One thing is for certain. Harry Reid will have an honored place in the history of people who make silly statements. He’ll be up there with the British Astronomer Royal who pronounced space flight to be “utter bilge” and the late Isaac Asimov who once opined that Ronald Reagan was mad for even imagining that the Soviet Union would fall.
The fact of Harry Reid’s fallacious prediction and the fact that he is still Senate Majority Leader says something about American political culture that is unedifying. In times past, when a prominent politician such as Harry Reid blundered as spectacularly as he did, he would have slunk away into a well deserved obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again.
The sad fact of the matter is, while (sometimes) sexual or financial malfeasance can wreck a political career, political folly rarely does if one of an entrenched incumbent. Some of the same people, like Senator John Kerry, who fought President Reagan’s strategy to bring down the Soviet Union tooth and nail, were still around twenty years later to fight tooth and nail President George W. Bush’s strategy against the terrorists.
How can this be? It seems to be a combination of an incapacity for embarrassment on the part of politicians and an incapacity for remembering history on the part of their constituents. If it doesn’t matter that a scant two years ago Harry Reid declared the war in Iraq lost, then it hardly matters that twenty five years ago John Kerry railed against President Reagan’s foreign policy toward the Soviet Union.
It’s the oldest cliché ever uttered that those who forget history are bound to repeat it. Only this time it is different. Two years ago President George W. Bush was around to defeat Harry Reid’s defeatism. Now there is no one but Barack Obama to stand between the Harry Reids of the world and self fulfilling prophesies of military disaster.
Source: Senator Reid On Iraq: “This War Is Lost”, Joel Roberts, CBS News, April 20th, 2007