Sunday, November 22, 2009

A pyrrhic victory

"Vice President Joe Biden told Iowa Democrats on Saturday that the Senate handed the president a big victory with its decision to move forward with debate on sweeping legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system."

"A Pyrrhic victory . . . is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. The phrase is named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. . . . In both of Pyrrhus's victories, the Romans had more casualties than Pyrrhus did. However, the Romans had a much larger supply of men from which to draw soldiers, so their casualties did less damage to their war effort than Pyrrhus's casualties did to his. The report is often quoted as "Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone," or "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined."

After the 2010 elections, Biden and the Congressional Democrats may feel just like King Pyrrhus.

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