Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) pronouncement in 2007 that the Iraq War was “lost” resurfaced recently when Robert Gates called the comment “disgraceful” on national television. To the surprising of no one, Reid fired back in kind:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bluntly accused former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday of being "out to make a buck" with a memoir that attacks numerous other officials from President Barack Obama on down.
"He denigrates everybody, everyone, Secretary (of State Hillary Rodham) Clinton, the president, (Vice President) Joe Biden, me."
Among other references, Gates wrote that at one point he wondered if Reid was delusional in calling to speak with him about the vice presidency.
Reid said he has not discussed the book with Obama but has spoken with Biden about it. "We just lamented how disappointed we were," he said. "It's obvious it's to sell a book."
The Nevada Democrat said in brief comments in his Capitol office that he hasn't read the book and doesn't intend to, but knows what Gates wrote from conversations with others. "I'm surprised he would in effect denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck," he said.
Maybe. Or perhaps he wanted to write a serious and honest account of all that happened -- as well as an accurate portrayal of those with whom he worked -- during his four and half years at the Department of Defense? Might that be a better explanation? As Gates said in response to Reid’s outburst, he does praise many of his colleagues, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden -- although he serves up some biting criticism as well. But it seems out of character that Gates would “denigrate everybody,” as Reid opines, merely to “make a buck.” He presumably took a huge pay cut after tendering his resignation as the college president at Texas A&M University to serve in the Bush administration. So if money was his chief -- or only -- concern, why on earth leave that cushy job in the first place? The title of his memoir might provide an answer.
I think Gates wrote exactly how he felt when the Senate Majority Leader made those regrettable comments, and Reid is now smearing his character to save face. A guy who served eight different presidents doesn’t strike me as someone who would foolishly and needlessly make outrageous claims to sell books. And incidentally, I suspect he wasn’t the only public servant offended by Harry Reid’s defeatism and callousness that day.