AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
Nearly twenty years ago, with the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq in full swing, the public was introduced to Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister. As U.S. forces swept through the country, al-Sahhaf made a number of unintentionally comical appearances in front of news cameras to claim that Iraqi forces were actually winning great victories, earning him the nickname “Baghdad Bob.” While al-Sahhaf is now reportedly living a quiet life in the UAE, it seems that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken inspiration from the one-time cultural icon in making his own outlandish pronouncements and pushing for still more of the tax and spend legislation that is the primary reason Democrats face such a brutal electoral landscape this November.
For many Americans, Baghdad Bob’s colorful appearances at daily press briefings were a temporary reprieve from the otherwise heavy images and scenes emerging from the conflict. With U.S. troops on the outskirts of Baghdad, al-Sahhaf reported that “many authentic sources” had told him Iraqi forces had the Americans on the run and American soldiers were committing suicide “by the hundreds.” Just days before Saddam was toppled by the American invasion, and with U.S. tanks just offscreen, al-Sahhaf told the media that there were no Americans in Baghdad – full stop. Baghdad Bob’s bombastic rhetoric and blatantly false assertions helped him become one of the first ever “memes,” turning Saddam’s hapless sidekick into an internet sensation.
In the years since then, “Baghdad Bob” has come to denote anyone whose assertions become so out of touch with reality that they become almost laughable and have the opposite of their intended effect. During the disastrous U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, for instance, many in the media likened President Joe Biden to Baghdad Bob for his claims that no Americans were having trouble getting to Kabul airport and that the operation was a “great success.” Biden Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo won a similar comparison for her insistence that the economy is actually doing quite well, while Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has earned the Baghdad Bob title for his claim that the U.S.-Mexico border is “closed.”
Now, it seems that it’s Chuck Schumer’s turn to become the Democrats’ Baghdad Bob. Over the last several weeks, Schumer’s on-again-off-again negotiations with Joe Manchin have become almost as entertaining as Baghdad Bob’s old news conferences. As voters increasingly express alarm and anger about skyrocketing inflation – caused in large part by unprecedented non-emergency spending under the Democrat Congress – Schumer has continued to call for even more spending, bizarrely insisting that pumping additional money into the economy will somehow solve the inflation crisis. During a floor speech last November, Schumer claimed that “if we want to fight inflation, if we want to create more jobs… the best thing we can do is to pass Build Back Better”—Democrats’ gargantuan socialist spending bill.
Inflation stood at 6.8% when Schumer made those comments. But even now, with inflation topping 9%, Schumer has refused to back down, and now looks to be close to a deal with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin on a reconciliation bill that is sure to send inflation higher still. Part of this new proposal reportedly includes tax hikes on individuals and businesses – another deeply unpopular policy that is sure to advance the recession and leave Americans even worse off.
At the same time, Schumer seems wholly oblivious or in denial about the effect that the push for more big spending will have on Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate this November. Even as polls continue to show that inflation and rising prices are the top concern for most voters, Schumer has continued Democrats’ race to the left, forcing endangered incumbents like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada, and Raphael Warnock of Georgia to take votes that worsen the problem. Despite Schumer’s best efforts to convince Americans to ignore reality when it comes to the root cause of inflation, even Democratic voters blame rising prices on their own party’s policies.
With just over three months to go until Election Day, it seems that Schumer is determined to stay the course, doubling and tripling down on assertions that are by now ridiculous to the vast majority of Americans. But come November 9, Schumer, much like Baghdad Bob, may suddenly find himself out of power and fleeing the capital, no longer able to deny his ever-more obvious failures.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_
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