The Dean Gets a Demerit

April 26th, 2007

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I really like David Broder. He almost always writes with common sense and clarity. He is one of the few political columnists with no obvious axe to grind and who brings genuine insight to a wide range of topics. And I’m grateful for the attention that he has given to Third Way’s products. I read him without fail.

And that’s why I almost fell off the exercise bike this morning when I read his column comparing Harry Reid to Alberto Gonzales.

In going after Harry Reid so viciously, Broder swings for the fences. But he whiffs badly.

Harry Reid and Alberto Gonzales are actually polar opposites. Let’s compare:

  • Alberto Gonzales is in trouble for evading the truth. Harry Reid has offended Broder by telling the truth.
  • Alberto Gonzales is a Bush toady, who has survived in the job (at least as of this writing) only because the President has remained loyal to his incompetent crony. Harry Reid is nobody’s toady, and he has risen to the post of Senate Majority Leader by his toughness, intelligence, skill and determination.
  • Alberto Gonzales provided a legal rubberstamp for the worst instincts of the Bush Administration, green-lighting torture, illegal detention, warrantless wiretapping and other abuses. Harry Reid has led the fight in Congress against the misuse of presidential authority.

Broder bores in on Reid’s recent comment that the war in Iraq “is lost.” Well what of it? Harry Reid is a plain-spoken truth-teller. And though Broder mocks Chuck Schumer’s clarification of Reid’s comment, it actually makes perfect sense. The military adventure in Iraq IS lost. Just ask the American people – in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out today, respondents were asked if victory in Iraq was still possible. By 55-36%, they said no.

And there is the essential difference between Alberto Gonzales and Harry Reid. The Attorney General came before Congress, raised his right hand, swore to tell the truth, and then just flat out lied about his “inability to recall” a series of major decisions he made less than 5 months ago. Harry Reid speaks his mind truthfully.

This Monday, I had the honor of sitting next to Harry Reid as he gave a speech that Third Way co-hosted that forcefully, elegantly, and passionately argued for the need to make drastic changes in Iraq. I’m sure it gave Harry Reid no pleasure to have to give that speech. But he is the Leader of the Senate, and that’s what leaders are called to do.

Alberto Gonzales deserves the public caning he’s getting. But Harry Reid deserves plaudits, not brickbats, from the Dean of the DC press corps.