I haven’t been especially easy on Harry Reid lately. I think his behavior despicable, shortsighted, pernicious, self-serving, and bordering on the traitorious.
But it doesn’t fit the definition of treason, even though Tom Delay recently has called it “very, very close.” Treason has been defined by the US Constitution in such a way as to make it difficult to prosecute, and traditionally in most countries it has included intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy.
Reid’s intent is manifestly different: to defeat George Bush, placate his own party, and win the 2008 election. He said as much when he addressed the Democratic base:
I understand the restlessness that some feel. Many who voted for change in November anticipated dramatic and immediate results in January. But like it or not, George W. Bush is still the commander in chief – and this is his war.
Note the distancing from any sense that are all in this together, and might need to pull together to face a difficult enemy. No concept of the message such intense divisiveness gives to that enemy.
No, the war and everything to do with it is all tied to the personage of the hated Bush—the true enemy—and when it goes away, his power goes away. And then all the problems go away. We need to look no further than that.
This, of course, is demented, although a powerfully seductive point of view that has taken hold among a large portion of the populace. And so the latest in Reid’s battle against top enemy Bush is to propose a bill that will force a troop withdrawal by October 1 (beginning as early as July 1), if Bush has not proven to Congress’s satisfaction that the surge is working.
It’s a variation on a theme that’s become more and popular in this country of late: managed care. The executive branch and the military who have been tasked with such decisions since the beginning of this country, subject only to Congress’s ability to fund or not fund, is now to be micromanaged by the middlemen (and women) of Congress, who will set up demands for quantifiable and provable results by a certain date or they will pull the plug on this patient.
In the insurance business, it’s all about money. But this is most manifestly not about money, not really; it’s about power. Domestic power, played out on a world stage, with possible horrific consequences for Democratic victory, consequences about which Reid and his supporters couldn’t care less.
When questioned about those possible horrific consequences, Reid tossed them off with an answer almost breathtaking in its failure to take responsibility for what he is proposing:
Reid was asked what the U.S. should do if U.S. troops leave and Iraq collapses into chaos. “We know this is an intractable civil war going on now,” he responded.
I couldn’t find a transcript of the full interview, and I sincerely hope that’s not all Reid could find to say on the matter. But what he appears to be saying here is: “Not my fault; it’s already hopeless, so anything that happens after a pullout has nothing to do with the pullout itself.”
That, by the way, is the key to why Reid is so hot to define the war as already a failure: he hopes that any subsequent consequences cannot be laid at the Democrats’ feet. His hands, he is saying, will be clean—and this, as I’ve written before, is one of the most pressing concerns of many liberals.
Reid’s proposal is a profoundly cynical move, as well, a bone tossed to the ravening bloodthirsty (thirsty, that is, for Bush and Republican blood) hordes on the Democratic Left.
Why do I call it cynical? Because Reid knows his bill has virtually no chance of going into effect, since Bush has declared at the outset he will veto it, and the votes are there to sustain such a veto. And so it is merely a move in the ongoing chess game against Bush, and Reid sincerely hopes it’s checkmate (note the derivation of the word “checkmate:” the king is dead).
[ADDENDUM: Austin Bay isn’t too fond of the weather on Harry Reid’s planet, as well.]