Griffs Notes 4/23/07

I went over to the Reagan Center today to hear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speak about the war in Iraq and pending legislation to bring the troops home. As expected, the speech set the table for what is almost inevitably going to be a fight on Capitol Hill with the President vetoing the promised legislation.

9/11 Commission Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton introduced Reid by making a few quick remarks saying, “Americans care deeply about this war.” And I think he’s quite right. Although, to the point, I think he should have said that Americans care deeply about “getting bi-partisan cooperation and solving the problems in Iraq.”

I had expected some continuation or explanation for Reid's remark last week that the “war was lost” in Iraq. But instead, he laid out a five-point plan that does exactly what President Bush has threatened to veto – set a timetable for withdrawal. Here’s what Reid said:

Our second step calls for beginning the phased redeployment of our troops no later than October 1, 2007 with a goal of removing all combat forces by April 1, 2008, except for those carrying out the limited missions I just mentioned.

Sen. Reid cited that there has been “no progress” in Iraq since the surge began three months ago. He sparked a new war of words with the WH by saying Bush is in a “state of denial” and that he “is the only person who fails to face this war’s reality.” And Reid took hefty swings at VP Cheney as well saying “to suggest he lacks credibility would be an understatement.”

I think the oddest thing Reid said was in a laundry list of “facts on the ground” in Iraq when he mentioned this nugget:

70% of Iraqi children are suffering from trauma like nightmares, bed wetting, stuttering and fear – that some say could paralyze an entire generation that we had been counting on to harvest the seeds of democracy.

Gen Petraeus was at a photo op with President Bush today who spoke out against Reid’s “artificial timetable.” And Sen. Obama made a policy speech denouncing the President’s handling of the war.

And according to military blogger and filmmaker Pat Dollard, some Marines in Ramadi had choice words for Reid over his “lost” remarks.

I wanted to ask a question of Sen. Reid today, but the only way someone was allowed to ask a question was by writing it down on a 3x5 note card and handing it to a handler. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get mine in.

Here was my question: Do you believe that in the wake of 9/11 that we are still a nation at war?

I believe that this is the critical question in the Iraq debate. For many, we are fighting a war spurned by 9/11 and we are intent on showing our resolve in light of great cost and sacrifice until we are victorious. For the rest, I think the war in Iraq has been a tremendous blunder, cost unnecessary loss of life and resources and further endangered our national security. I really don’t think there is much middle ground anymore in the discussion. And I think it’s time for our elected leaders to address it.

I can be reached for questions or comments at