None Dare Call Harry On It

Harry Reid tried very hard to cause his own country to lose a war, bending all the powers of his high office to that ignoble end. And it is not an issue that can be raised in his re-election campaign.

Harry Reid wanted America to be defeated in Iraq to embarrass a president who belonged to the other party and to gain seats in Congress for his party, thereby enhancing his own prestige.   And he is quite comfortable putting party ahead of country.

The charge carries insinuations of treason, so it is necessary to make the appropriate distinctions.

Back in the 1840s, New Englanders advanced cogent arguments opposing war with Mexico. In the second decade of the 20th century, isolationists argued against joining a war of European imperialist powers on the grounds that the nation's founding principles were antithetical to such interventions.

Out of a very reasonable fear of being demagogued ferociously and dismissed as antiques by the Democrats' mainstream media auxiliaries,  Republican pols didn't dare to brand Reid's antics as treasonable, the crime of treason having long since passed out of existence. If John Kerry can appear in uniform at the Paris peace talks to plead the cause of North Vietnam and Jane Fonda can sit, wearing an enemy helmet and an insane grin, astride the guns used to shoot down American aircraft -- if such things can be done with impunity (Kerry was rewarded with a seat in the U.S. Senate and Fonda earned millions from her comrades in Hollywood), then treason has become an empty concept.

No, Harry's behavior is no longer beyond the pale. He was merely doing what politicians nowadays are expected to do. Say anything at all to savage the other side. It doesn't matter if you're lying through your teeth; it doesn't matter if you endanger the lives of the young men and women overseas; it doesn't matter if you weaken the nation's security. The paramount issue here is partisan gain. Will what I say help my side to achieve ephemeral gains? If the answer is yes, then the gloves come off and no blow is too low.

Harry Reid probably didn't believe that we were losing the war. He couldn't possibly have regarded the surge as a failure before the effects of the surge were felt. But he and Nancy Pelosi hammered away relentlessly, utterly heedless of the dire consequences that would necessarily attend the success of their campaign. They asserted things they didn't know, hurled baseless and slanderous charges, and made predictions that turned out spectacularly wrong. (For an invaluable study of the Democrats' mendacity and irresponsibility, see Party of Defeat (Spence 2008) by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson.) What they did not do was initiate a substantive debate on the Iraq War, and they didn't for a good reason.

They strongly, with every fiber of their being, wanted to avoid such a debate. During the run-up to the Iraq War, I happened to be in one of the big chain bookstores where a book club was holding a meeting. A woman speaker was inveighing against Bushitler's evil scheme to oust Saddam Hussein. She wailed about the horrors the children of Iraq would have to endure. A man seated next to me gulped and muttered, "My God, she's trying to make a humanitarian case for the Butcher of Baghdad." (Michael Moore pulled a similar stunt at the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11.) The irony of invoking the same children for whom Saddam built special prisons and whose parents he had his secret police torture in front of their eyes wasn't lost on this man. He later identified himself as a liberal who had misgivings about embarking on a ground war before the inspectors had completed their work, but he refused to succumb to the truly singular form of madness that afflicts progressives when they are attempting to prevent anything that might conceivably serve America's interests.

What, then, would Harry and Nancy have said in the debate? They were fervently committed to letting Saddam remain in power. Squaring that stance, support for a genocidal tyrant, with their constantly-proclaimed concern for the little people poses certain, ah, difficulties. Insisting, as did Barack Obama when he was in the Illinois State Senate running for U.S. Senate, that Iraq was a distraction runs into a harsh reality  -- that awkward business of al-Qaeda wrecking itself, expending vast amounts of manpower and resources, to stop at all costs the formation of a democratic Iraq. If Iraq was tangential to the war against Islamofascist terror, why did the terrorists themselves make it their focus and fight so desperately? Why did they attach greater importance to Iraq than they do to the Good War in Afghanistan? Why did they have the temerity to disagree with the Anointed One? Anyone unconvinced that the Democrats dreaded defending the position they saddled themselves with should check out the article, "So, Mr. Hitchens, Weren't You Wrong About Iraq." Ask yourself if the Dems were serious about holding up their precious talking points to the cold light of reason.

No, this is surely not a debate the Democrats wanted. But they were spared having it by the gutlessness and moral confusion of the Republicans. Having supinely acquiesced to the Democrats' introduction into the political discourse of a toxic meme, the Big Lie about Bush knowing that there were no WMD in Iraq, the Republicans had been effectively neutered. Harry Reid tried to lose a war for America -- a loss that would have entailed crippling economic consequences as well as being a devastating blow to our credibility -- and it isn't a campaign issue that can be used against him. Sharron Angle, who deserves to win because Reid, more than anyone, deserves to lose, can't reach her goal by stating the plain fact that her opponent is a villain. How staggering, how breathtaking is that? The vanishing generation that won World War II could not hope to understand.

And the man we have to thank is none other than Karl Rove, who now admits that failing to refute the false and cynical charge that Bush lied us into war has hurt the country badly.

An absurd falsehood that not one Democrat hurling it actually believed, a falsehood that undermined and practically destroyed Bush's presidency, has poisoned the political debate ever since.
Harry Reid tried very hard to cause his own country to lose a war, bending all the powers of his high office to that ignoble end. And it is not an issue that can be raised in his re-election campaign.

Harry Reid wanted America to be defeated in Iraq to embarrass a president who belonged to the other party and to gain seats in Congress for his party, thereby enhancing his own prestige.   And he is quite comfortable putting party ahead of country.

The charge carries insinuations of treason, so it is necessary to make the appropriate distinctions.

Back in the 1840s, New Englanders advanced cogent arguments opposing war with Mexico. In the second decade of the 20th century, isolationists argued against joining a war of European imperialist powers on the grounds that the nation's founding principles were antithetical to such interventions.

Out of a very reasonable fear of being demagogued ferociously and dismissed as antiques by the Democrats' mainstream media auxiliaries,  Republican pols didn't dare to brand Reid's antics as treasonable, the crime of treason having long since passed out of existence. If John Kerry can appear in uniform at the Paris peace talks to plead the cause of North Vietnam and Jane Fonda can sit, wearing an enemy helmet and an insane grin, astride the guns used to shoot down American aircraft -- if such things can be done with impunity (Kerry was rewarded with a seat in the U.S. Senate and Fonda earned millions from her comrades in Hollywood), then treason has become an empty concept.

No, Harry's behavior is no longer beyond the pale. He was merely doing what politicians nowadays are expected to do. Say anything at all to savage the other side. It doesn't matter if you're lying through your teeth; it doesn't matter if you endanger the lives of the young men and women overseas; it doesn't matter if you weaken the nation's security. The paramount issue here is partisan gain. Will what I say help my side to achieve ephemeral gains? If the answer is yes, then the gloves come off and no blow is too low.

Harry Reid probably didn't believe that we were losing the war. He couldn't possibly have regarded the surge as a failure before the effects of the surge were felt. But he and Nancy Pelosi hammered away relentlessly, utterly heedless of the dire consequences that would necessarily attend the success of their campaign. They asserted things they didn't know, hurled baseless and slanderous charges, and made predictions that turned out spectacularly wrong. (For an invaluable study of the Democrats' mendacity and irresponsibility, see Party of Defeat (Spence 2008) by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson.) What they did not do was initiate a substantive debate on the Iraq War, and they didn't for a good reason.

They strongly, with every fiber of their being, wanted to avoid such a debate. During the run-up to the Iraq War, I happened to be in one of the big chain bookstores where a book club was holding a meeting. A woman speaker was inveighing against Bushitler's evil scheme to oust Saddam Hussein. She wailed about the horrors the children of Iraq would have to endure. A man seated next to me gulped and muttered, "My God, she's trying to make a humanitarian case for the Butcher of Baghdad." (Michael Moore pulled a similar stunt at the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11.) The irony of invoking the same children for whom Saddam built special prisons and whose parents he had his secret police torture in front of their eyes wasn't lost on this man. He later identified himself as a liberal who had misgivings about embarking on a ground war before the inspectors had completed their work, but he refused to succumb to the truly singular form of madness that afflicts progressives when they are attempting to prevent anything that might conceivably serve America's interests.

What, then, would Harry and Nancy have said in the debate? They were fervently committed to letting Saddam remain in power. Squaring that stance, support for a genocidal tyrant, with their constantly-proclaimed concern for the little people poses certain, ah, difficulties. Insisting, as did Barack Obama when he was in the Illinois State Senate running for U.S. Senate, that Iraq was a distraction runs into a harsh reality  -- that awkward business of al-Qaeda wrecking itself, expending vast amounts of manpower and resources, to stop at all costs the formation of a democratic Iraq. If Iraq was tangential to the war against Islamofascist terror, why did the terrorists themselves make it their focus and fight so desperately? Why did they attach greater importance to Iraq than they do to the Good War in Afghanistan? Why did they have the temerity to disagree with the Anointed One? Anyone unconvinced that the Democrats dreaded defending the position they saddled themselves with should check out the article, "So, Mr. Hitchens, Weren't You Wrong About Iraq." Ask yourself if the Dems were serious about holding up their precious talking points to the cold light of reason.

No, this is surely not a debate the Democrats wanted. But they were spared having it by the gutlessness and moral confusion of the Republicans. Having supinely acquiesced to the Democrats' introduction into the political discourse of a toxic meme, the Big Lie about Bush knowing that there were no WMD in Iraq, the Republicans had been effectively neutered. Harry Reid tried to lose a war for America -- a loss that would have entailed crippling economic consequences as well as being a devastating blow to our credibility -- and it isn't a campaign issue that can be used against him. Sharron Angle, who deserves to win because Reid, more than anyone, deserves to lose, can't reach her goal by stating the plain fact that her opponent is a villain. How staggering, how breathtaking is that? The vanishing generation that won World War II could not hope to understand.

And the man we have to thank is none other than Karl Rove, who now admits that failing to refute the false and cynical charge that Bush lied us into war has hurt the country badly.

An absurd falsehood that not one Democrat hurling it actually believed, a falsehood that undermined and practically destroyed Bush's presidency, has poisoned the political debate ever since.

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