WaPo editorial board slams Harry Reid’s leadership, and the ‘all-nighter’ debate on Iraq

The Washington Post editorial board, showing its more moderate tone towards Iraq and issues related to it, skewers Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s stifling of meaningful debate on potential alternatives to the Democrat cut and run plan for Iraq:

THE SENATE Democratic leadership spent the past week trying to prove that Congress is deeply divided over Iraq, with Democrats pressing and Republicans resisting a change of course. In fact that’s far from the truth. A large majority of senators from both parties favor a shift in the U.S. mission that would involve substantially reducing the number of American forces over the next year or so and rededicating those remaining to training the Iraqi army, protecting Iraq’s borders and fighting al-Qaeda. President Bush and his senior aides and generals also support this broad strategy, which was formulated by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission. Mr. Bush recently said that “it’s a position I’d like to see us in.”

The emerging consensus is driven by several inescapable facts. First, the Iraqi political reconciliation on which the current U.S. military surge is counting is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Second, the Pentagon cannot sustain the current level of forces in Iraq beyond next spring without rupturing current deployment practices and placing new demands on the already stretched Army and Marine Corps. Finally, a complete pullout from Iraq would invite genocide, regional war and a catastrophic setback to U.S. national security.

The decision of Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to deny rather than nourish a bipartisan agreement is, of course, irresponsible. But so was Mr. Reid’s answer when he was asked by the Los Angeles Times how the United States should manage the explosion of violence that the U.S. intelligence community agrees would follow a rapid pullout. “That’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to get into it,” the paper quoted the Democratic leader as saying.

For now Mr. Reid’s cynical politicking and willful blindness to the stakes in Iraq don’t matter so much. The result of his maneuvering was to postpone congressional debate until September, when Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, will report on results of the surge — in other words, just the outcome the White House was hoping for. But then, as now, the country will desperately need a strategy for Iraq that can count on broad bipartisan support, one aimed at carrying the U.S. mission through the end of the Bush administration and beyond. There are serious issues still to resolve, such as whether a drawdown should begin this fall or next year, how closely it should be tied to Iraqi progress, how fast it can proceed and how the remaining forces should be deployed.

What the WaPo is saying, in just a few words is, “Senator Reid, quit playing political games with this war.”

The NYT, however, blames the stalemate on the debate on the future of Iraq on, of course, the administration:

With the White House refusing to lead, lawmakers in both parties have begun to talk about the best way to end the war. But instead of seizing the opening, Mr. Bush and his team continue to spout disinformation and vacuous slogans about victory and, of course, more character assassination.

This time, the hit man was Eric Edelman, the under secretary of defense for policy, and the target was Senator Hillary Clinton.

In May, Mrs. Clinton wrote Defense Secretary Robert Gates with a reasonable question: Had the Pentagon done any planning for withdrawal from Iraq? What she got back was a belligerent brush-off. Mr. Edelman, who said he represented Mr. Gates, wrote that “premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq.”

Using such an insulting tone with a senator would surely lead to dismissal by any president who respected the Constitutional system of government. But so far, not this one. As for premature, most of the world thinks this pointless war has dragged on far too long. Public? We thought open debate — especially about such life-and-death issues — was a pillar of democracy. And as for the charge of reinforcing “enemy propaganda” this is sadly business as usual for a member of the Bush administration.

What a stunning display of hypocrisy, all in one little paragraph. The NYT invokes the “patriotism” card, which as we all know means that Democrats should be able to criticize with impunity the war in Iraq, yet have the audacity to complain about the administration’s alleged attempt to shut down critics in the next sentence.

I suspect that this complaint about the administration’s response to Hillary Clinton is a smokescreen for their own defensive posture over revealing classified information aka “leaks” (more on that here) – information that does indeed embolden, encourage, and aid the enemy.

The NYT: Once again fighting for the ‘right’ to aid the enemy while attempting to shut down your right to slam them for doing so.

Is there any member of the New York Times editorial board who doesn’t live in a glass house?

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