Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi said a 30 minute phone call was sufficient for her briefing on Iraq, so she skipped other briefing opportunities. We hinted it might be perhaps because the Speaker’s mind is already made up and this isn’t really about policy, but politics. We can’t say for sure about the Speaker, but Harry “war-is-lost” Reid is definitely on Fantasy Island, stating he doesn’t believe information from General Petraeus saying the situation in Iraq is improving, revealing his hand is most definitely about politics, not policy.
Reid appeared on CNN (a network definitely not known for sympathy to the President) and said the following (from The Situation Room transcript):
Harry Reid spoke with our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, about the showdown and his controversial assessment of the war.
BASH: You talked several times about General Petraeus. You know that he is here in town. He was at the White House today, sitting with the president in the Oval Office and the president said that he wants to make it clear that Washington should not be telling him, General Petraeus, a commander on the ground in Iraq, what to do, particularly, the president was talking about Democrats in Congress.
He also said that General Petraeus is going to come to the Hill and make it clear to you that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working. Will you believe him when he says that?
REID: No, I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.
Harry Reid — don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up. He certainly knows more about Iraq from thousands of miles away that the General who is in charge (kidding). For a Senate Leader to refuse to listen to the guy who would know what is really going on is ridiculous — unless you already have your mind made up and a course of action decided (i.e. the war is lost and the surge won’t work). We wonder what the Senator’s opinion of the General would be if the General had different news; is the Senator’s belief based on whether the news supports his pre-determined position?
Policy may (or may not) need to be changed, and that’s a debate we should have. Discussion is good and enables the best ideas to come forward. Any person who refuses to discuss options and new information isn’t acting according to their fiduciary duty towards the country, and that applies to both sides of the isle — both The President and Senate leaders.
Both sides in this discussion have at times refused to listen to reason — right now it’s the Democrats turn to look foolish by refusing to discuss options; when a Congressional leader rejects information from a reliable source, it proves they aren’t really interested in a discussion about policy, only political maneuvering — and that’s bad.
Remember Senator, a mind is like a parachute — it only functions when open.
Of course, The Constitution separates powers between Congress and the President. Congress can give authority (and funding) for the president to use the military, and The President can carry out the strategy as Commander in Chief as he sees fit. If Senator Reid really believes the war is hopeless, he should not pass a funding bill at all, or recind the Presidential authorization. Either action ends military involvement in Iraq. And if his convictions are as serious as he claims, he should act immediately – why pass a funding bill at all?
What the Senator can’t do is what he wants: micro-manage the President’s actions. There’s a reason the President is called Commander in Chief. Congress controls authorization and funding, the President controls strategy. But when either side forgets those simple rules, we get the political mess we see now. Can you imagine if during WWII the Congress and the President fought like now? Both sides need to understand their Constitutional roles. And sorry Senator, you don’t get to make military strategy, only the President does. If you don’t like the current course of action, you de-fund or de-authorize the action.
For all the recent calls for firings and resignations, perhaps it’s time for Senator Reid to resign. (Just kidding, all the recent posturing is ridiculous and only for political points. We’re not really advocating for his recall or resignation.)