Earlier this week the New Republic’s online site posted the column by senior editor Lawrence Kaplan on the “illiteracy” of Democratic congressional leaders on Iraq. It’s a devastating column whose gravamen is the minimization of the stakes in Iraq given the presence of al Qaeda:
Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But, when Nancy Pelosi confessed last year that she felt “sad” about President Bush’s claims that Al Qaeda operates in Iraq, she seemed to be disputing what every American soldier in Iraq, every Al Qaeda operative, and anyone who reads a newspaper already knew to be true. (When I questioned him about Pelosi’s assertion, a U.S. officer in Ramadi responded, incredulously, that Al Qaeda had just held a parade in his sector.) Perhaps the House speaker was alluding to the discredited claim that Al Qaeda operated in Iraq before the war. Perhaps. But the insinuation that Al Qaeda’s depredations in Iraq might be something other than what they appear to be has become a staple of the congressional debate over Iraq. Thus, to buttress his own case for withdrawal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “We have to change course [away from Iraq] and turn our attention back to the war on Al Qaeda and their allies”–the clear message being that neither plays much of a role there.
What is going on here? There are two possibilities: First, Reid and Pelosi could be purposefully minimizing the stakes in Iraq. Or, second, they don’t know what they’re talking about. My guess is some combination of the two.
Kaplan’s column was published online in time to prevent “the real Dana Milbank” from embarrassing himself in his column yesterday, if Milbank had only availed himself of it. But he chooses to join Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in the higher illiteracy that has now become doctrinal in the Democratic Party. Today’s New York Post republishes Kaplan’s column so that Milbank, Pelosi, and Reid can now check it out in hard copy.
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