"There Is No Doubt"?

Taylor Marsh and a host of people say:

There is no doubt that Reid said what he said [that Pace is incompetent]. The question now is, why in the world did Reid let this hang out there all day without confirming it? Since he did the honorable thing and told Pace to his face what he thought of him, why not also confirm to someone, anyone? Also, since Reid believes it why not take the opportunity to also come out and stand by your story strongly at least in a statement? And why sidestep the question at a press conference? Again, the strongest thing to do when you've leveled a charge like this is stand up and stand behind it. Reid's silence all day while the rest of us tried to get to the bottom of this was ridiculous. It makes no sense.

With due respect, I disagree with almost every particular of this analysis. I will explain on the flip.

Taylor says "there is no doubt." I find that to be, well, wrong. As discussed last night, a reading of the transcript leads me to believe that Reid was referencing Alberto Gonzales as "incompetent." Let's review the transcript:

BLOGGER QUESTION: What's the next step on Gonzales? REID: Well, I guess the President, he's gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was. But he got rid of his Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, but he still hangs on to this failed Attorney General. And I guess he's gonna [inaudible]. We're gonna keep focusing on it. Every day that goes by, it seems he keeps giving. Now we've learned that the immigration judges are all graduates of Regent University I guess.

(Emphasis supplied.) There is no way anyone can say "there is no doubt" who in the heck Reid called incompetent. Was it Bush, Gonzales or Pace? Marsh can not pretend to know without a doubt. Let's be clear. If the persons who heard that DID believe without a doubt that Reid had said then they should have blogged about it in my opinion. It was clearly newsworthy in my opinion. Reid calling Bush incompetent? Been there. Done that. Reid called Gonzales incompetent on the floor of the Senate THAT VERY DAY! Non-story. But calling Pace incompetent? He has never done that publically and, as far as I can tell, still hasn't.

Marsh says "[t]he question now is, why in the world did Reid let this hang out there all day without confirming it?"

Well, actually he didn't. He responded in this fashion:

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, delivered a critical assessment on Thursday of Gen. Peter Pace’s performance as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and demanded that Congress be given a “fair, honest and frank” report about conditions in Iraq when it receives a progress report in September. “General Peter Pace is a distinguished military veteran and public servant,” Mr. Reid said. “Unfortunately, in my opinion, he was never as candid as he should have been about the conduct and progress of this war.” . . . Mr. Reid’s comments came after he drew unusually harsh criticism from the White House after a report by The Politico, a Washington newspaper, that he had suggested that General Pace was “incompetent.” Aides to Mr. Reid would neither confirm nor deny whether he had used that characterization of General Pace during a telephone conference call earlier this week with liberal bloggers.

I think the reason why they did not confirm or deny the allegation is because they did not know if he had said it. To date, one person, Bob Geiger, has said that Reid said it. We now have the transcript which, in my opinion, hardly makes clear that Reid did say it. On the contrary, I think it demonstrates he likely said it about Alberto Gonzales.

Now here is the real problem in my opinion - if Reid had said it, would we be applauding? I would not. It would have been incredibly stupid of Reid to create this unnecessary firestorm over Pace, who is on his way out. Yet it seems that Reid would have been backed in such a stupid move. Is it true that Pace is incompetent? Does it matter? Pace is out. Why cause problems for the drive to end the war with a now irrelevant truth?

Indeed, it is time to focus on the part of Reid's statement YESTERDAY that really does matter:

“It is incumbent upon the president, the Pentagon and our commanders in the field to give us the information that we need to hear, not what we want to hear,” Mr. Reid said. “It is the only way we in Congress will be able to make the right decisions as we work to change course in Iraq and responsibly end this war.”

Yep, about Septemeber. Eugene Rbinson has a great column today on the September backslide:

Here's a surprise: Remember how we were told that if we just waited until the fall, we'd see that George W. Bush's "surge" was working in Iraq? Well, now it turns out that we shouldn't expect answers in September after all.

White House spokesman Tony Snow was purposeful on Wednesday in stomping, trampling, tap-dancing upon and otherwise giving a definitive beat-down to any expectations of a serious, fact-based reassessment of Iraq policy in the fall. Never mind that the White House raised those expectations in the first place.

The September scenario has been a rhetorical mainstay for the administration and its supporters, a major argument for ignoring all the bad news from Iraq and giving Bush's troop escalation a chance to work. Let's wait for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the man who's now running the war, to submit his progress report. At that point, went the White House argument, the "way forward" would become clear.

The fog of war seems to have closed back in. "I have warned from the very beginning about expecting some sort of magical thing to happen in September," Snow told the White House press corps, whose collective recollection was somewhat different. "What I'm saying is, in September you'll have an opportunity to have metrics."

The point Reid makes about demanding candor in September matters. But in the end, this point from Robinson is the one that needs to be absorbed:

Will anything Petraeus says in his September report change Bush's determination to fight on in Iraq toward ill-defined "victory" -- to "win" what has become a multifaceted mess of sectarian warfare that everyone is destined to lose? Almost certainly not. If there is a single encouraging paragraph in the entire document, Bush will seize on it as vindication. Facts on the ground have never been the determining factor in Bush's policy on Iraq. Facts don't even seem to be a particularly important factor. It was considerate of Tony Snow to start preparing us for the inevitable -- and, indirectly, to remind congressional leaders that if they want to change the president's course on Iraq, they won't do it through reasoned persuasion. George Bush can't bring himself to question his basic vision of Iraq, and I doubt he ever will.

Bush and the Republicans will never end the Debacle. Time to come to grips with that. And that applies to Democrats in Congress AND progressives and the Netroots. Time to stop waiting for the Godot Republicans.

< Friday Open Thread | Hey Joe? If the Iraqis Are Standing Up, Why Can't We Stand Down? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I now agree with you (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:07:34 AM EST
    because you bolded the fact that the question was about Gonzales. I would still like to know who gave the Politico this story, and why.

    A distraction, indeed.

    Why is pretty obvious, I think. (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Edger on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:22:19 AM EST
    A distraction, indeed.

    Hold on to a disintegrating base?

    e.g. How will the freepers and powerlie readers see that Fox article? They'll see, and tell their friends, that Fox reported Reid confirming what Politico said  - AND they even had a link in the first paragraph, and the link confirmed what the Fox article said. What more could they ask for?


    Yep. n/t (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:28:09 AM EST
    All of them (5.00 / 6) (#2)
    by eric on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:19:31 AM EST
    Was it Bush, Gonzales or Pace?

    They are all incompetent, so it doesn't really matter.  Reid should just come out and say it.  "They are all incompetent, although I meant to refer to X, incompetent describes them all."

    Eric's Correct (none / 0) (#17)
    by FaulknA on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:08:33 PM EST
    They all deserve to be called incompetent, along with a few other words I won't post here.

    Congressional Grammar week? (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by Maryb2004 on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:35:17 AM EST
    Was there a proclamation and I missed it?  

    First we're treated to an exposition on the use of the hortatory subjunctive mood and now we all have to think about pronouns and antecedents?

    Gonzales makes sense given the context. It would be easier to tell if we heard the recording and could hear pauses and inflection.  I don't know how anyone can say there is no doubt.

    We should insist on the tape (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by andgarden on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:50:33 AM EST
    Bob Geiger, do you actually have a tape, and if so, why can't we listen to it?

    I also agree with you (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by hellskitchen on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:37:47 AM EST
    Trying to parse contemporaneous speech is frequently very difficult.  As your careful parsing and bolding of the transcript shows, Reid used he for three people in quick succession.  

    I briefly thought that he might be calling Bush incompetent, but "I laid it out last time he came in to see me" indicates that it can't be Bush.  If it had been "I laid it out last time I saw him," we'd really be in an interpretation debate.

    The question was about Gonzales and, ultimately, even the references to Pace and Bush point back to Gonzales.

    I think he was talking about Bush.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by dkmich on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:33:23 AM EST
    Hard to sort out all of the hes in that paragraph.  "The point Reid makes about demanding candor in September matters."  How naive can Reid be.  If it walks like a skunk, talks like a skunk, it is a freakin skunk Harry Reid!  I still say no one is this stupid so it has to be collusion.

    this is all so ridiculous (none / 0) (#10)
    by amethyst on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:49:01 AM EST
    It reminds me of the soap-opera addicts who endlessly talk about and gossip about the characters as if they were real people.

    What became of the 24-hour news cycle? (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:51:16 AM EST
    I'm being swept into another Elian Gonsales sink hole.

    just to chime in here (none / 0) (#13)
    by Stewieeeee on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:42:01 PM EST
    the first time i saw the transcript, that's exactly what i thought.

    "PEOPLE.  He's talking about Bush!!!"

    but there are some problems here with how this thing has unfolded.  a quick response from reid's office, "uh, folks, i was talking about bush," would have helped a great deal.

    at the very least, more bloggers besides yourself should have picked up on this.

    now.  the transcript itself isn't extra double specific, if reid's office came out and said "actually, i was talking about pace," there is room within the transcript for that to be the case.

    i am only saying what my first impression was of the transcript, and i hope my agreement here with you doesn't force you to cast any doubt upon yourself.

    in any case, the republicans are going to say it's about pace.  every blogger i can see besides yourself has conceded it's about pace.  reid's office has not confirmed anything either way.

    as far as damage control is concerned, one has to proceed as though the facts of the situation are no longer relevant.

    BTD: did you see my e mail to TL? (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:45:12 PM EST
    This story has your name written all over it:  NCAA basketball, possible First Amendment violation, blogger ejected from game.

    You have to e-mail me (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:47:46 PM EST
    at bigtentdemocrat AT yahoo DOT com

    Simple (none / 0) (#18)
    by chupetin on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 08:59:36 AM EST
    The question to Reid was about Gonzalez, therefore his answer was about Gonzalez. My guess on what is said in the inaudible part is "keep him".