On the April 30 edition of XM Radio's The Bob Edwards Show, Washington Post columnist David Broder asserted that it was "really doubtful" President Bush would be able "to salvage something that would look like a victory in Iraq." Broder made this statement four days after he attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for what he called Reid's "ineptitude," because of, as he wrote in his April 26 Post column, Reid's assertion that the Iraq war "is lost." As Media Matters for America noted, in that column, Broder pointed to Reid's "war is lost" remark to compare him to embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and accuse him of engaging in "inept discussion[s] of the alternatives in Iraq" and of not being "a man who misses many opportunities to put his foot in his mouth." Further, after discussing Democratic strategist Paul Begala's recent column on The Huffington Post, in which he wrote that "Broder, of course, is a gasbag," host Bob Edwards noted, "[W]e're in the world of the blogs and this stuff spreads so fast." Broder responded: "I am not a fan of the blogs, and the blogs are not fans of mine."
As Media Matters has noted, in his April 26 column, Broder asserted that both Reid and Gonzales were "continuing embarrassment[s] thanks to" their "amateurish performance[s]," and he pointed to Gonzales' handling of the controversial dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys and Reid's "war is lost" statement as evidence. In that column, Broder also claimed that "a long list of senators of both parties" is "ready" for Reid's "ineptitude to end" but provided no evidence of any Democrat who holds that position.
But, during his interview with Edwards, Broder himself stated that it "is really doubtful" Bush's "effort to try to salvage something that would look like a victory in Iraq" is "achievable." Broder added that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, "probably has until August or September to produce something that would be tangible. If he can do it, that would be wonderful, but I think the odds are against him."
Additionally, in response to Edwards' question as to "who's right" in Iraq -- Bush or the Democrats -- Broder noted: "I think public opinion in this country says the Democrats are right." But, in his April 26 column, Broder never mentioned that public opinion supports Reid's assessment that the war "is lost." Further, when Edwards pointed out that the entire Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the editor to the Post "backing" Reid and asked Broder: "Did you get it wrong, or is the Democratic support weaker than they would have us believe?" Broder responded "no" and added with apparent sarcasm:
BRODER: I thought it was terribly moving that 50 Democratic senators, including one who's been hospitalized for months and has not made it to the Senate floor, spontaneously put their names on the letter to you and to The Washington Post, condemning me for what I had said about their leader, Harry Reid. I have never seen such a wonderfully orchestrated outburst in a long time. So, it was -- gotta be impressive testimony that they really want to keep him as their leader.
In dismissing the Democratic caucus' stated support of Reid, Broder again failed to provide any evidence to back up the claim he made in his column -- that there is a "long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two [Reid and Gonzales] springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end."
From the April 30 edition of XM Public Radio's The Bob Edwards Show:
EDWARDS: And what constituencies need to be pleased by these negotiations?
BRODER: Well, there are a whole variety of them. The Democrats have -- are being pushed by the anti-war wing of their party, which gets stronger, probably, every day. The president is -- still has the backing of most Republicans, who say that they support his effort to try to salvage something that would look like a victory in Iraq -- whether that's achievable is really doubtful.
EDWARDS: The president says timetables are defeatist. Democrats say that continuing the war just amplifies past mistakes at great cost. Who's right?
BRODER: Well, I think public opinion in this country says the Democrats are right. When Gen. Patraeus was here in Washington this past week, he was making the case that they are still something that is worthwhile doing in Iraq. And he has more troops still coming in the next two months to try to achieve something that would look like progress, at least in Baghdad and Anbar Province. He probably has until August or September to produce something that would be tangible. If he can do it, that would be wonderful, but I think the odds are against him.
EDWARDS: Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," and there is grumbling that Iraq is not comparable to Vietnam because it might end up being more damaging. Think so?
EDWARDS: And you lit up our mailbox this past week with your criticism of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. You said he was a loose cannon who's risking continued Democratic support. The Democratic Caucus in the Senate signed a letter backing him. Did you get it wrong, or is the Democratic support weaker than they would have us believe?
BRODER: No, I thought it was terribly moving that 50 Democratic senators, including one who's been hospitalized for months and has not made it to the Senate floor, spontaneously put their names on the letter to you and to The Washington Post, condemning me for what I had said about their leader, Harry Reid. I have never seen such a wonderfully orchestrated outburst in a long time. So, it was -- gotta be impressive testimony that they really want to keep him as their leader.
EDWARDS: Democratic strategist Paul Begala called you a "gasbag."
BRODER: Well, he's got the credentials to do that. I -- Begala has been after me ever since --
EDWARDS: What are you saying? It takes a gasbag to know a gasbag?
BRODER: No, no, no, no, no. But he, ever since he worked in the Clinton White House, he's been on my case. And, I think I'm just going to have to learn to live with Paul Begala's criticism.
EDWARDS: Is this just another day in the life of a political columnist?
BRODER: Right, exactly.
EDWARDS: Well, it seems to me it's more difficult these days. I wonder if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing.
BRODER: You know, if you're doing political commentary, as I guess I'm doing these days for you and for the Post, you learn that you have to accept the idea that you're going to be a target for people who you criticize -- and that's fine. Begala is in an interesting position because, like a few others, he's been on both sides of the street.
He's been a political operative, and now he is quote, unquote "a commentator" -- and I think that's fine. If you accept that he has credentials to be a commentator after having carried the water for Democrats for many years, that's for -- it's a free country.
EDWARDS: But now we're in the world of the blogs and this stuff spreads so fast.
BRODER: I know, and I am not a fan of the blogs, and the blogs are not fans of mine, and we can live with that tension as well. What I like about the world today is that people can have an audience without having to be cleared by anybody, and it's a great thing for this country that people can express their views.