And not just disgraceful, but “one of the most disgraceful things I’ve ever heard a politician say.” Too bad Robert Gates wasn’t around for Harry Reid’s McCarthyesque attack on Mitt Romney by claiming to have inside knowledge that the Republican presidential nominee was a tax cheat. I’d give the edge to the “The war is lost” declaration in 2007, though, for the reasons Gates gives here (via the Washington Free Beacon):
“The troops believed and still believe that they were being successful in their mission,” Gates said. “So I think they were able, to a certain extent, to set aside the politics here at home.”
But, Gates continued, “When you have somebody like the Senate Majority Leader come out in the middle of the surge and say ‘this war is lost’, I thought that was one of the most disgraceful things I’ve heard a politician say.”
“That sends a riveting message to kids who are putting their lives on the line every day that they’re doing it for nothing,” Gates noted, “and that was absolutely not the case.”
It’s one thing to debate strategy, especially when the options involved put more Americans troops on the line for more aggressive operations, which will increase casualties. It’s quite another to spew defeatist rhetoric while outside of the loop, and ill-informed defeatist rhetoric as it turned out. The surge actually worked — while we remained in Iraq — and allowed the US-Iraqi alliance to bring Anbar under control.
The problem with Harry Reid is that he routinely makes a disgrace out of himself, and it’s just so difficult to choose which anecdote is the worst.