Right question, wrong answer

Our congressman is John Kline, a man who served 25 years in the Marine Corps before he retired at the rank of Colonel. He served as a helicopter pilot and was ultimately accorded the responsibility of flying Marine One. He also served as a personal military aide to Presidents Carter and Reagan.

When Rep. Kline asks the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a question bearing on our national security, it’s not because he wants to make a show for the folks back home. So I paid attention when Rep. Kline asked Chairman Dempsey at a House Armed Service Committee hearing yesterday: “Where are we in Iraq today? Are we winning? Are we losing? Is it a stalemate? Is it a quagmire? What is Iraq today?”

Dempsey’s response followed the lines of the joke offering Tonto’s response to the Lone Ranger’s question regarding what “we” should do when they were surrounded by Indians: “What you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?” Dempsey objected to Kline’s use of the “personal pronoun ‘we,'” saying it was up to the Iraqis, not the U.S., to prevail in the country. I take it that the answer to Rep. Kline’s question is “no.”

Dempsey continued: “This has to be them, right? So if you’re asking, ‘Is the United States winning?’ that’s the wrong question.” Rep. Kline respectfully disagreed, as do we. In fact, I doubt that Dempsey himself believes it.

C-SPAN has posted the entire hearing with the testimony of both Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Carter here.

Via Tom LoBianco/CNN.

JOHN adds: The Lone Ranger analogy is apt, but Tonto’s line was rendered–by us kids in South Dakota, anyway–as, “What do you mean ‘we,’ paleface?”