Senate Majority Leader (for now) Harry Reid embarrassed himself once again in a speech ripping President Bush today. Reid is not happy that the president refuses to agree with him that Iraq is “lost” (Virginia Virtucon). Reid pulled out Vietnam references, psychobabble, and soothing words for the peace-at-any-price voters. However, what really established Reid as completely out of touch was this whopper of a line:
Looking beyond Bush’s expected veto, he said, “If the president disagrees, let him come to us with an alternative. Instead of sending us back to square one with a veto, some tough talk and nothing more, let him come to the table in the spirit of bipartisanship that Americans demand and deserve.”
The President already has presented an alternative. He presented it way back in January; he’s implementing it now; and by most accounts, it is achieving results. Reid, by contrast, has rejected that alternative out of hand at every single interval.
If I were Reid, I’d be very careful from here on out. There is a reason Reid is doing this kabuki dance on timetables and mandatory withdrawals as part of the war funding: if Reid tries to cut off funds altogether, Joe Lieberman will switch from “Independent Democrat” to “Independent who supports the Republicans.” While Nancy Pelosi has more room to maneuver, Reid is one mistake away from losing the Senate majority, and incurring the unrelenting wrath of his entire caucus (minus Lieberman).
The closer the day of fiscal reckoning comes, the more likely Reid will be unable to continue his antics and be forced to choose between giving in to the president or giving in to his base (and handing the Senate over to Mitch McConnell). If Reid were a principled statesman, he wouldn’t worry about this; but he isn’t a principled statesman – as anyone can see from his tap-dance on another issue.