Reid’s moment, Lugar’s duty

John Kennedy wrote about eight United States senators who changed American history by demonstrating what Hemingway called grace under pressure and Kennedy called Profiles in Courage.

Every so often in our democracy the Senate is called to rise to the challenge and perform its role designated by the Founding Fathers.

Both cloakrooms abound with talk about a president who appears dangerously divorced from the realities of war and unable to think clearly or change course.

Time and again, some of the wisest men in Washington and most senior senators in the Republican Party have pleaded with the president to change his course. They have been met with contempt and disrespect by a president who ignores their wisdom and judgment.

These senators have repeatedly emerged to support a policy they privately oppose, and allowed their party leaders to attack Democrats whose views are close to their own.

Now, with the overwhelming majority of the American people in virtual revolt against the policy, these Republicans make soundings of opposition while they hint, yet again, that they will not vote to change the policy anytime soon, unless the president agrees.

With 22 Senate Republicans facing reelection in 2008, they could suffer a cataclysmic defeat that brings in five to 10 new Democratic Senators.

The government of Iraq acts like a banana republic regime with rampant incompetence, corruption and ties to murderous militia.

The problem is not conflicting calendars between Washington and Iraq; it is conflicting calendars between our troops who shed their blood to buy Iraqis time, and an Iraqi regime that shows endless contempt for their honor and sacrifice.

Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidTop Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor GOP in uncharted territory rolling back rules through resolutions MORE (D-Nev.) and his leadership team have brilliantly steered Senate Democrats from a weak minority to Senate control in 2006 and to the possibility of an epic Senate Democratic landslide in 2008.

It is Reid’s moment, not merely to lead Democrats to victory, but to lead America out of a war without end, continued by a Washington without courage and a Senate that has lost its constitutional way.

When Woodrow Wilson and Senate Republican isolationists could not agree on the League of Nations, they paved the way for the tragedies that followed in Europe. When Harry Truman and Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg agreed on the Marshall Plan, they paved the way for democracy in Europe and the ultimate victory of freedom over communism in the Cold War.

If John Kennedy were writing his ninth and 10th profiles in courage today, he would hope for Reid rising to the stature of Truman, and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) aspiring to the stature of Vandenberg.

They would offer the president a grand historic bargain, proposing a change in policy based on professional military doctrine and traditional American notions of national unity.

Every American should read the full text of Lugar’s brilliant and sweeping analysis of Iraq. Reid and Lugar should turn this analysis into a new bipartisan policy:

• A careful, responsible and orderly change of policy with phased reduction and incremental redeployment of American troops in Iraq.

• An aggressive push for an Iraqi ceasefire with an American super-negotiator — with the full force and power of the president, Congress and both parties — to meet with Iraqis.

• A long-term program for troops and vets to fully address their unmet needs measured in hundreds of billions of dollars.
These changes could significantly lower American casualties and increase the prospects of success.
It is time for the Senate to do its duty, and time for new profiles in courage.

Budowsky, a contributing editor to Fighting Dems News Service, was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, formerly chief deputy whip of the House. He can be reached at and read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog.