“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
― Milton Friedman

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Monday, May 14, 2007

Loss Leader

The following appeared in Saturday's Lansing State Journal, with minor edits. The most amusing one was the change of "Democrat" to "Democratic" at the end of the 5th paragraph. For some reason, calling a Democrat a Democrat has started to irritate Democrats.

The LSJ titled this Reid's the one who's lost. I called it:

Loss Leader

On April 20th Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking of the Battle of Iraq, told us “this war is lost.” When pressed by CNN reporter Dana Bash about this defeatism, Reid redeployed the words of Multi-National Force/Iraq Commanding General David Petraeus.

Reid: “General Petraeus has said that only 20 percent of the war can be won militarily. He's the man on the ground there now. He said 80 percent of the war has to be won diplomatically, economically and politically. I agree with General Petraeus.

…I stick with General Petraeus. I have no doubt that the war cannot be won militarily, and that's what I said last Thursday and I stick with that.

…Well, I -- as I said, maybe it's a choice of words. I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily.”

Asked four times to distinguish “this war is lost” from “the war cannot be won militarily,” Reid insisted that Petraeus agreed with the choice of the words “this war is lost.” Though Reid took care not to repeat the phrase “this war is lost,” his premeditated misuse of Petraeus’ words in defense of having said it is what passes for “supporting the troops” among Democrat leaders these days.

In order that his contempt for both Petraeus and the English language not be misconstrued, Reid went further. When asked, “Will you believe [Petraeus] when he says [that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working]?” Reid responded, “No, I don't believe him, because it's not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.” According to Reid, if Petraeus ever says there is any military progress in Iraq then Petraeus is a liar. This is not so much sticking with General Petraeus as it is sticking it to him …in advance. Figuring out how Reid can believe any of Petraeus’ comments about Iraq is left to the student.

Whatever selective nuance Senator Reid may wish to apply; “Cannot be won militarily” is not the same as “is lost.” “Cannot be won militarily” is especially not the same as “requires withdrawal of the military,” the latter of which is Reid’s policy.

Senator Reid can, however, distinguish losing from winning when it comes to Senate seats. The Majority Leader and Senator Charles Schumer have been observed in premature self-congratulation about the seats they'll pick up in the Senate. Their self-interest is reinforced by a partisan glee so strong as to be immune to common sense. That is, it may well be true that Democrat electoral strategy turns on the idea that the war is lost, but why revel publicly in this cynical calculation?

Because it energizes the base.

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