Before Gen. David Petraeus entered the House hearing room September 10 to testify on the progress of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, the American left had already decided how they were going to react to his report: Castigate Petraeus as a dishonest toady of the Bush Administration and traitor to the country and declare the surge a failure.
The liberal 527 group MoveOn.org bought a full-page ad (at right) in the September 10 New York Times accusing Petraeus of “cooking the books” on the Iraq surge and accusing the general of betraying America. (The Times gave MoveOn a $102,000 discount.) As of press time, not one of the Democrats running for President has denounced the MoveOn ad.
What follows are quotes from liberals who decided that sliming Gen. Petraeus and the surge was more important than allowing the truth to be told. Of course, this was to be expected, considering House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) admitted that a positive report from Petraeus would pose “a real big problem” for the Democratic Party.
MoveOn.org: “General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House
“General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts. . . . Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us” (Full-page ad in the New York Times, Sept. 10, 2007).
Anonymous Democratic Senator: “No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV. The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us” (“Between Iraq Report and a Hard Place,” Politico, Sept. 10, 2007).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.): “I believe … that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything” (Press conference, April 19, 2007).
DANA BASH, CNN: “Gen. 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?”
SEN. REID: “No, I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” April 23, 2007).
SEN. REID: “I’m waiting to see if Gen. Petraeus can be a little more candid with this. . . . For someone, whether it’s Gen. Petraeus or anyone else, to say things are great in Baghdad isn’t in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad, even though he’s there and I’m not” (Press conference, June 14, 2007).
SEN. REID: “He’s made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual. I have every belief that this good man, Gen. Petraeus, will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in this report—that is now not his report, it’s President Bush’s report” (Press conference, Sept. 07, 2007).
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.): “Let me be clear. The violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda said to these tribes: We have to fight al Qaeda ourselves. It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here—it was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here, and that is because there was no one else there protecting them” (Senate floor, Sept. 5, 2007).
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.): “Our witnesses have been sent here this morning to restore credibility to a discredited policy. . . .
“We cannot take any of this administration’s assertions on Iraq at face value anymore, and no amount of charts or statistics will improve its credibility. . . .
“The administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees and the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say I don’t buy it” (Opening statement, Joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Sept. 10, 2007).
Rep. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.): “Cherry- picking statistics or selectively massaging information will not change the basic truth. . . .
“This testimony today is eerily similar to the testimony the American people heard on April 28, 1967, from Gen. William Westmoreland, when he told the American people America was making progress in Vietnam. . . .
“We’ve heard a lot today about America’s credibility. President Bush recently stated we should not have withdrawn our troops from Vietnam, because of the great damage to America’s credibility. General, there are 58,195 names etched into the Vietnam War Memorial. Twenty years from now, when we build the Iraq war memorial on the National Mall, how many more men and women will have been sacrificed to protect our so-called credibility? How many more names will be added to the wall before we admit it is time to leave? How many more names, General?” (Joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Sept. 10, 2007).
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.): “He is presenting the same cherry-picked numbers that we’ve all heard before. . . . 4 1/2 years later, and we are still hearing how, despite their deficiencies, Iraqi security forces are expanding their capacities” (Blackberry text messages sent during Petraeus’s testimony, reported by the Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2007).
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.): “I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief” (Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sept. 11, 2007).
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.): “I don’t consider the surge a nuanced policy. It’s killing our soldiers at a great rate. … Sen. [Joe] Biden [D.-Del.] talked to you about what the comptroller general said, and you’re going to argue about it? I think the comptroller general ought to be listened to. He says you’re cherry-picking your numbers in terms of the overall violence. . . . I ask you to take off your rosy glasses. You had them on in ’05” (Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sept. 11, 2007).
Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.): “By carefully manipulating the statistics, the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing, and thus the surge is working. Even if the figures were right, the conclusion is wrong” (Speech to the Center for National Policy, Sept. 7, 2007).
New York Times: “We hope Congress is not fooled by the silver stars, charts and rhetoric of yesterday’s hearing. Even if the so-called surge has created breathing room, Iraq’s sectarian leaders show neither the ability nor the intent to take advantage of it. . . . The American people deserve more than what the general and the diplomat offered them yesterday” (Editorial, “Empty Calories,” Sept. 11, 2007).
Code Pink Protestors: “Tell the truth, General! Generals lie, soldiers die. War criminal!” (Ryan Grim, “A Room With Two Views,” Politico, Sept. 10, 2007).
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.): “We don’t need a report that wins the Nobel Prize for creative statistics or the Pulitzer for fiction” (Matthew Jaffe, “Democrats Already Discrediting Upcoming Petraeus Report,” ABC News, Sept. 8, 2007).
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D.-Calif.): “I don’t think Gen. Petraeus has an independent view in that sense. Gen. Petraeus is there to succeed. He may say the progress is uneven. He may say it’s substantial. . . . But I don’t think he’s an independent evaluator” (“Fox News Sunday,” Sept. 9, 2007).