I just finished watching a replay of the appearance of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker before the Senate Armed Servcies Committee. In contrast to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (at least as described on our Forum), the questioning by members of the Armed Services Committee was mostly intelligent and probing. I include not just the questions of supporters of the surge like Senators McCain and Lieberman, but also those of critics, especially Senators Levin and (Jack) Reed.
Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton was a huge exception. Unlike Levin and Reed, who asked direct, pointed questions (and received some admissions from the candid Petraeus in response), Clinton betrayed no interest in hearing from the witnesses. Instead, she launched into a rambling speech.
At the end of her speech, Clinton gave Petraeus and Crocker “tremendous credit for presenting a positive view of a grim reality.” In other words, Clinton gave the two witnesses credit for (in her view) misleading Congress. Except for its cynciism, this statement is basically indistinguishable from the “General Betray-us” advertsement that Moveon.org ran in the New York Times.
UPDATE: Actually, it’s not shocking that a Clinton would admire what he or she takes to be high quality deceit.
MORE: Clinton’s speech — diatribe, really — was silly and at times incoherent. She whined that six years after 9/11, bin Laden appeared on television and al Qaeda tried to pull off an attack on Americans in Germany. My guess is that six years ago, most Americans would have been satisifed if told that this — a desperate, rambling speech and a failed attack — was as close as al Qaeda would get to attacking American civilians again.
Clinton then told Petraeus that his charts were impressive but don’t tell the whole story. For the rest of the story, Clinton noted that civilian deaths reached record levels in May (before the surge had any chance of taking hold — talk about cherry picking statistics) and that U.S. casualties are higher per month in 2007 than in 2006 (a natural consequence of having more troops doing more, and of no relevance to whether the surge is succeeding in its objectives).
Thus, did Hillary Clinton attempt, albeit lamely, to present a negative view of a somewhat encouraging reality.
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