This isn’t even the most shameless thing he said yesterday on MTP. That distinction goes to his praise for John McCain, whom he described during the campaign as a borderline lunatic whose temper left him unfit to serve as president. Direct quote from August: “I can’t stand John McCain.” Direct quote from yesterday: “He’s my friend.” Nuance.
The bit that’s getting attention is his squirming over having merrily pronounced the surge a failure and the war lost in two years ago. When asked if he still feels that way, his defense is to hide behind Petraeus: All he meant is that the war wasn’t winnable with military power alone, which is no different really from anything Petraeus has said, and Petraeus of course is a “genius” so how about getting off Reid’s back already? The follow-ups Gregory didn’t ask: If Petraeus is such a genius, why did Reid vow not to believe him if he reported progress at his 2007 Senate hearing? Why did he allegedly call Petraeus incompetent a few months later? Why was he one of only 25 Senators to vote against the resolution condemning MoveOn for the “Betray Us” ad? Why was he still declaring the surge a failure as late as December 2007, and even to this day insists that Iraq is in a state of civil war? The answer to all these questions is that, for Reid, the facts on the ground are always determined by political expedience. That’s why he was able to insist four months ago, with Obama pushing hard on the stump for a renewed commitment to Afghanistan, that the country is in “pretty good shape” when everyone but everyone on both sides knows better.
Note too how he tries to take credit for the surge at the beginning by emphasizing the Democrats’ role in forcing a change of direction in Iraq policy. Not the first time we’ve heard that argument advanced. The left demanded that Bush withdraw; Bush responded by doubling down instead and ordering the surge. Voila — a change of direction in policy. Thanks, Harry!