By: E&P STaff
A Washington Post editorial on the current legislative conflict over Iraq last weekend blamed Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid squarely for the impasse. The Post suggested that, unknown to most, there actually is a “consensus” for starting to withdraw from Iraq next year, with President Bush and most Republicans on board, and Reid is defying that by pushing for an earlier or at least more firm pullout.
The evidence it cited for the president’s approval of the “consensus,” was this: “Mr. Bush recently said that ‘it’s a position I’d like to see us in.'” It later admitted: “There’s no guarantee that Mr. Bush can agree with Congress on those points or that he will make the effort to do so.”
Reid responded in a rare letter to the editor, published today. The text follows.
On reading the July 21 editorial “The Phony Debate,” it became clear why The Post’s editorial writers have been such eager cheerleaders for the Bush administration’s flawed Iraq policies — the two share the same disregard for the facts en route to drawing dubious conclusions.
The editorial was an inaccurate commentary on the nature of the Senate debate, the reality in Iraq and the president’s stubborn adherence to failed policies.
Your editorial wrongly asserted that “a large majority of senators from both parties favor a shift in the U.S. mission.” While a majority of the Senate voted again last week for a plan that would keep U.S. forces in Iraq for counterterrorism and troop protection and launch a diplomatic effort to help stabilize the region, Democrats were joined by only a handful of courageous Republicans — far from a majority of Republicans and not enough to break the Republican leadership’s filibuster. And if the president truly supports changing course, as your editorial implied, he needs to do much more than tell us “it’s a position I’d like to see us in” — he must drop his irresponsible veto threats and tell Republican leaders to stop blocking votes on proposals to carry out this change.
Finally, it was disingenuous to assert that Democrats are using Iraq to stir voters’ passions; the American people are sufficiently disappointed on their own. Three-quarters of Americans recognize that the war is going badly, three out of five support further funding only if it includes a timetable for transitioning the mission, and nearly all expect their president to work with Congress to do something to change course.
U.S. Senator (D-Nev.)