Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a nasty habit of name-calling, which reared its ugly head again when the Nevada senator tried to deflect charges from the White House about his position on the war.
Last week, Reid told reporters that Vice-President Dick Cheney was the “administration’s attack dog.” To warrant this charge, Cheney had said Reid’s views on Iraq policy were “uninformed and misleading.”
This testy exchange was prompted by an April 23 speech Reid gave at the Woodrow Wilson Center. There, Reid told listeners that “winning the war is no longer the job of the U.S. military.”
A few days before that, on April 19, Reid declared the “war is lost” and said the President’s surge of U.S. troops to Iraq is “not accomplishing anything.” But the next day on the Senate floor, after receiving some backlash from his own party, Reid claimed, “No one wants us to succeed in Iraq more than Democrats.”
After breaking from the Republicans’ weekly policy luncheon on April 24, Cheney told reporters Reid was campaigning against the war for political gain. “Sen. Reid himself has said the war in Iraq will bring more his party more seats in the next election,” Cheney said. “It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage.”
Through the midterm elections, Reid pledged to keep full funding for U.S. troops in Iraq. Then, after the Democrats took the majority on Capitol Hill, Reid said he supported funding the war as long as certain benchmarks were met. In early April, Reid signed on with Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold’s legislation to prohibit funding for the war by March 31. The bill also calls on the President to begin withdrawing troops within four months.
“Last November, Sen. Reid said there would be no cut-off of funds for the military in Iraq,” Cheney said. “So, in less than six months time, Sen. Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding with conditions, and then a cut-off of funding. Three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops.”
In January, Reid voted to confirm Gen. David Petraeus to be commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq. Petraeus was appointed by President Bush to carry out a surge of about 21,000 U.S. troops, most of them into the Baghdad area. When Reid was asked by CNN if he would believe Petraeus if Petraeus said the surge policy in Iraq was working, Reid said, “No I wouldn’t.”
In a press conference, Reid was asked to address the charges of inconsistency the Vice President made against him. Reid refused to answer. Instead, Reid called Cheney the “administration’s chief attack dog” and told reporters “I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with someone who has a nine percent approval rating.”
Reid is wise to decline answering these charges: They are correct. Below is a compilation of quotes from Majority Leader Reid that show both his propensity to insult and his inconsistent position on the war.
“I think that he [Justice Clarence Thomas] has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.” –NBC’s "Meet the Press," December 5, 2004
“I’m not a big Greenspan fan — Alan Greenspan fan. I voted against him the last two times. I think he’s one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington.” –CNN’s "Inside Politics," March 3, 2005
"The man’s [President George W. Bush] father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser." –Speech at Del Sol High School May 7, 2005
"When he [Bill Frist] got this job, he had had limited experience on the Senate floor, and he was leaving. He had term-limited himself. So he has no institutional integrity. … He doesn’t feel as strongly about the Senate. He does whatever the White House wants him to do.” –Washington Post, December 19, 2005
“Can you think of one thing that has gone right in Iraq? And I’m having — searching and I’m having trouble finding that.”– Press conference, September 19, 2006
‘I’m going to throw bombs sometimes — I’m going to be conciliatory other times.”- New York Times, November 10, 2006
“We’re not going to do anything to limit funding [for the war] or cut off funds, even though there are some on the outside who suggest that.” –Associated Press, November 29, 2006
“Just as with Vietnam, there was never a time when funds were cut off from Vietnam. And I don’t think anyone can find a war that this country was engaged in where the funds were cut off. No one is talking about cutting off the funds.” –"The Charlie Rose Show," March 5, 2007
“Reauthorization [of the war] isn’t such a good idea, more than likely. I think probably what might be better is to specifically do away with the authorization whatsoever, period. And then just assign specific legislative authorizations to what the troops there could do. Get rid of the original authorization [of the war]. –"The Charlie Rose Show," March 5, 2007
“I am pleased to cosponsor Senator Feingold’s important legislation…. If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period.”– Joint statement issued by Feingold and Reid on April 2, 2007.
"The American people, I repeat, have to understand what is happening. It is not worth another drop of American blood in Iraq. It is not worth another damaged brain." –interview with Ed Schultz, April 2, 2007
“We’re going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding.” –Press conference, April 12, 2007
“I support, with Senator Feingold, legislation that would start redeployment in 120 days, and there would be a cut-off date April 1, 2008. I support that. And there will be a time when I’m going to be looking to Senator Feingold and others for a time to do that.” –Press conference, April 19, 2007
“Now, I believe myself … that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything.”– Press conference April 19, 2007
“No one wants us to succeed in Iraq more than Democrats.” — Speech on the Senate floor, April 20, 2007
"General Petraeus, the commander on the ground, has said so himself. Twenty percent [of the war in Iraq] can be won militarily and 80 percent has to be won through our diplomatic efforts, politics, and economics. I repeat: the only way to succeed lies through a comprehensive political, diplomatic and economic strategy. So says the commander on the ground there, General Petraeus." — April 20, 2007
CNN: [President Bush] has also said that General Petraeus is going to come on 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.” –CNN’s Situation Room April 23, 2007
REPORTER: The Vice-President suggested you’ve been inconsistent in your position [on Iraq], changing, he said, three times in five months, from no cutting off of funds, to funding with limitations, to now cutting off funds —
REID: I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a nine percent approval rating. –Press conference, April 24, 2007