Majority Leader Harry Reid is being lacerated, and justifiably so, for a pair of statements about the war in Iraq.
The more widely quoted is the "war is lost" remark of April 19, which, read in context, amounts to a charge of rankest cynicism against President Bush and his War Cabinet.
"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense (understands) and -- you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows -- that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything."
Reid is not just saying the war is lost, but implying that Condi Rice, Bob Gates and probably George Bush know it, and are denying us the truth and cynically letting our soldiers be killed at a rate of 100 a month in what they know is a lost war.
If Reid believes this, he has a moral duty to vote to terminate any further funds for this war. Even the great Robert E. Lee, whose 200th birthday we celebrate, surrendered to stop the killing when his army began to disintegrate after the fall of Richmond in 1865.
Why would Reid not demand his party deny funds for a lost war? Hearken now to the April 12 quote of Harry Reid: "We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Sen. Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding."
One imagines Reid and Schumer sniggering in the cloakroom over the list of Republicans they can bring down if Americans are still dying in Iraq when November 2008 rolls around.
Yet, cynicism aside, defeatism aside, the questions needs to be asked: Is Iraq a winnable war -- or a losing and probably a lost cause?
Last December, Bush himself told The Washington Post: "We're not winning. We're not losing" -- a long way from his pre-election stand, "Absolutely, we're winning."
That same month, Colin Powell, who convinced America that invading Iraq was vital to our national security, said the U.S. Army is "almost broken," and "we are losing" the war," though "we haven't lost" yet.
On Wednesday, the House voted 218 to 208 to impose an Oct. 1 deadline for starting U.S. troop withdrawals, if the Maliki government meets benchmarks for progress in political reconciliation. If the Maliki government fails, first departures move up to July 1. Almost all U.S. troops, except residual forces, are to be out by next April.
On Thursday, the Senate approved this $124 billion spending bill, and Bush is expected to veto it and demand a clean bill -- no deadlines, no pork.
Congress will then capitulate and give Bush what he wants. For recalling the "Who lost China?" and "Who lost Vietnam?" debates of decades ago, Democrats do not want to be in the dock when the "Who Lost Iraq?" inquiry begins in the public forum.