Broder Tells ‘E&P’ That He Stands by His Blast at Harry Reid

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By: Dave Astor

David Broder said he wouldn’t change anything in his April 26 column, which angered many readers and caused 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to write a letter criticizing Broder in Friday’s Washington Post.

In that Thursday piece, Broder criticized Harry Reid for saying the Iraq War is lost militarily, compared Reid to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and concluded: “The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.”

“I still think the Democrats can do better, and should do better,” said Broder, when reached today by E&P.

The Senate Democratic Caucus letter — covered in a Friday E&P story — stated, among other things: “(I)n this age of scripted politicians speaking only to their base or claiming that they ‘don’t recall’ anything, the fact that Mr. Reid speaks his mind should be applauded, not derided.”

Broder told E&P that he was “astonished and delighted” that 50 Democratic senators “spontaneously” came up with the letter (adding that he was being “tongue-in-cheek”).

The columnist also said he was “not surprised” that his Thursday piece drew such a negative reaction from the 50 senators and most of the many readers who flooded washingtonpost.com with comments. “This war is so unpopular and for very good reason,” said Broder. “I’ve written many columns critical of this administration’s actions in Iraq, and most of the response of readers to those columns has been: ‘Right on.'”

The latest opinion polls show that at least 60% of the public agrees with Reid’s position that the U.S. has little hope of winning the war.

Actually, Broder may not be that optimistic about the war, either. MediaMatters.org reported that the columnist, during an XM Radio interview today, told Bob Edwards he’s “really doubtful” that President Bush can “salvage something that would look like a victory in Iraq.” Broder added that “public opinion in this country says the Democrats are right” in their efforts to end the war.

Broder’s April 26 piece was also criticized by columnist Frank Rich yesterday and political commentator Paul Begala last Thursday.

Rich, of The New York Times and New York Times News Service, wrote that Broder “is leading the charge in ridiculing Harry Reid for saying the obvious — that ‘this war is lost’ (as it is militarily, unless we stay in perpetuity and draft many more troops).”

And, as E&P reported last Thursday Begala wondered on HuffingtonPost.com why Broder seemed more upset with Reid than with the way the Bush administration “continues to lie” about the Iraq War; “neglected our wounded warriors”; “ignored the victims of Katrina”; “potentially obstructed justice by firing U.S. Attorneys who were pursuing GOP wrongdoing”; and more.

Broder, who’s syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, isn’t sure if he’ll use a future column to address the reaction his April 26 piece stirred up. Rather than looking back, he said, “I try to keep dealing with new topics.”

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