Willfully ignorant micro-management

You were probably too busy doing your job this week to attend General David Petraeus’ Congressional briefing on the battle of Iraq. So was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi Won’t Attend Petraeus Briefing


WASHINGTON, Apr. 24, 2007— As the House and Senate prepare to vote this week on the final conference report on the $124 billion troop funding bill — which would also mandate that U.S. combat troops begin withdrawing from Iraq on Oct. 1 at the latest — Gen. David Petraeus is scheduled to come to the Hill tomorrow to brief lawmakers on the progress of the recent troop escalation.

ABC News has learned, however, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will not attend the briefing.

“She can’t make the briefing tomorrow,” a Democratic aide told ABC News Tuesday evening. “But she spoke with the general via phone today at some length.”

A Pelosi aide said the speaker on Tuesday requested a one-on-one meeting with Petraeus but that could not be worked out. He said their phone conversation lasted 30 minutes.

Last week, House Democratic leaders were criticized by their Republican counterparts when they initially declined an invitation from Petraeus to brief House members on the status of the war due to “scheduling conflicts,” as first reported by Roll Call.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision “irresponsible” and said it constituted a “dereliction of duty.” But by the end of the day, Pelosi’s office changed course and scheduled a briefing for members of the House for Wednesday, April 25.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the senator would attend the classified briefing with senators on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

In your defense, it’s probable you were not invited to this briefing, and that gives you an excuse unavailable to Ms Pelosi. She was, apparently, too busy lining up votes to undermine General Petraeus’ mission, and considering travel arrangements for a return engagement with thuggish dictator Bashar Assad in Syria. Her recent visit garnered the approval of many foreign news outlets, for example The People’s Daily Online in Communist China.

I’m sure Ms Pelosi also had to spend some time contemplating the meaning of “supporting the troops” with Harry “the War is Lost” Reid. Reid has a nuanced definition requiring some parsing.

Majority Leader Reid recently said that General Petraeus has already failed in Iraq. To his credit, Reid did attend the General’s briefing, though he announced in advance that he would pay no attention to anything that contradicted his assessment of American defeat. Reid recently voted to put Petraeus in charge of the primary battleground in the War against Islamic terrorists, apparently because Petraeus also believes the war is lost. He explains this to CNN correspondent Dana Bash:

BASH: The phrase “the war is lost” really touched a nerve.

Do you stand by that — that — that comment?

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.

Now, that is clear and I certainly believe that.

BASH: But, sir, General Petraeus has not said the war is lost.

I just want to ask you again…

REID: General — General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily. He said that. And President Bush is doing nothing economically. He is doing nothing diplomatically. He is not doing even the minimal requested by the Iraq Study Group.

So I — 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.

BASH: Arlen Specter, a Republican, but somebody who, in many ways, is like you, a critic of the president’s Iraq policy. He said this. He said: “For men and women who are over in Iraq to have somebody of Senator Reid’s stature say that the war is lost, it is just very, very demoralizing and not necessary.”

Is there something to that, an 18- and 19-year-old person in the service in Iraq who is serving, risking their lives, in some cases losing their life, hearing somebody like you back in Washington saying that they’re fighting for a lost cause?

REID: General Petraeus has told them that.

BASH: How has he said that?

REID: He said the war can’t be won militarily. He said that. I mean he said it. He’s the commander on the ground there.

BASH: But, sir, there’s a difference…

REID: Are they critical of him?

BASH: … between that and saying the war is lost, don’t you think?

REID: Well, I — as I said, maybe it’s a choice of words. I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily.

Doesn’t every soldier going there know that he’s said that?

…BASH: You talked several times about General Petraeus. You know that he is here in town. He was at the White House today, sitting with the president in the Oval Office and the president said that he wants to make it clear that Washington should not be telling him, General Petraeus, a commander on the ground in Iraq, what to do, particularly, the president was talking about Democrats in Congress.

He also said that General Petraeus is going to come to the Hill and make it clear to you that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working. Will you believe him when he says that?

REID: No, I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.

“Maybe it’s a choice of words,” indeed. Choosing, that is, which ones to spin 180 degrees and which ones to ignore. Summarizing Reid’s position: “General Petraeus agrees with me that the war is lost, so I do not need to listen to him any further.”

“All you have to do is look at the facts.” Reid has a made a choice here, too. There are facts he wants to look at – those involving possible electoral advantage. The Majority Leader and his faithful endian companion Sen. Charles Schumer have been observed in premature-self-congratulation about the seats they’ll pick up in the Senate. It is telling that their partisan glee overrides minimal common sense. It may well be true that the war will cost Republican seats, but why reveal this cynical calculation? It may well be true that Democrat strategy depends on losing the war, but why make it obvious?

If you would like to be one up on both Pelosi and Reid, watch this “Pentagon Briefing 26 April 2007:”