Harry Reid talks tough on Iraq

With polls showing the Petraeus performance made no difference to voters, the Democrats say they won't compromise on timelines after all.


Joan Walsh
September 19, 2007 3:27PM (UTC)

Glenn Greenwald said it best, but after all that braying about the MoveOn ad, the American people still think the Iraq war is going badly, despite Gen. David Petraeus' best efforts to convince them otherwise. USA Today is the latest to show new numbers that are essentially unchanged, pre- and post-Petraeus.

So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out Tuesday afternoon and said, never mind, the Democrats won't compromise on timelines for withdrawal (a strategy they mulled last week, in the hopes Republicans might support something more along the lines of goals or guidance for troop reductions, but not the dreaded timelines). Reid says he'll soon introduce legislation by Sen. Carl Levin demanding Bush end combat by next summer. "There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," Reid told the AP.

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The change of heart has less to do with Democratic courage than Republican cowardice about standing up to Bush on the botched war. Despite some tough GOP talk to Petraeus last week, it seems no additional Republicans are likely to back legislation setting goals or timelines for troop withdrawal. "I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's. They're jealous," Reid said with a smile, according to AP. Reid shouldn't smile just yet. Clearly Democrats don't have the votes to stop the war, and I find it hard to smile at the political advantage the Republicans' obstinacy provides Democrats until they do.

Meanwhile, as someone who wasn't crazy about the MoveOn "Betray Us" ad, I'm glad the group continued to swing back at Rudy Giuliani when he glommed onto the issue. I don't think any of the Democrats have made nearly enough of Giuliani's being too busy making lucrative speeches to come to Iraq Study Group meetings. Here's the latest MoveOn ad about it:


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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