Picking nits as policy

Mark Steyn:

I'll get into Sandy Berger's pants, crowded as they are, momentarily. But let me sneak up on them in a roundabout way. A few days ago, I woke up to find an e-mail from a pal enclosing the following UPI story:

"Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday."

"Isn't that GREAT NEWS?" asked my friend, rhetorically. Well, the story didn't pan out, and a couple of hours later he e-mailed again to apologize for the premature yelping and high-fiving, and adding that he hadn't meant it was GREAT NEWS Saddam had nukes, only that it was GREAT NEWS because it would ruin John Kerry's and Michael Moore's day.

True. And that sums up perfectly the rotten state of domestic politics in America. A frivolous uncivil civil war is draining all the energy away from the real war. We warmongers didn't start the nitpicking, but somehow the entire landscape of U.S. politics has tilted so that a nation supposedly at war is spending most of its time looking through the rear window sniping about what was said and done in 2002, 2001, 2000, like the falling calendar leaves in a Hollywood flashback. The Democrats will always win on this playing field because, like some third-rate soap opera, their characters are not required to have any internal consistency.

Take, for example, Max Cleland, Vietnam veteran and former Georgia senator. Last week, speaking in his role as Kerry campaign mascot, he said Bush went to war with Iraq because "he basically concluded his daddy was a failed president" and he "wanted to be Mr. Macho Man" so he "flat-out lied."

Blistering stuff, huh? Would this be the same Max Cleland who voted to authorize war with Iraq in the U.S. Senate? Perhaps, as he's so insightful about the president's psychology, he could enlighten us as to his own reasons for wanting war with Iraq? Any daddy hang-ups there, Mr. Macho? This would be unworthy language for any senator to use about the commander-in-chief in time of war but it's especially ludicrous from a senator who ran campaign commercials in the 2002 election boasting that "Max Cleland is a respected leader on national security who supports the president on Iraq.'' What a pitiful clapped-out hack. At least Michael Moore is a consistent Bush-hater.


And here's where I have some sympathy with Sandy Berger and his overloaded pants. By his own words, he's guilty of acts that any other American would go to jail for. He "inadvertently" shoved 30-page classified documents down his pants and then "inadvertently" lost them at home and then "inadvertently" returned to the National Archives to "inadvertently" take another draft of the same 30-page document and "inadvertently" lost that, too. He "inadvertently" made forbidden cell phone calls from the room with the classified documents, and he "inadvertently" took more suspicious bathroom breaks while in the Archives than that Syrian band took on that L.A. flight that was in the news last week. If the former national security adviser has an incontinence problem, that at least explains where he was during the '90s when Osama bin Laden was growing bolder and bolder on his watch.


What matters is where we're headed, not where we were. And, in that respect, John Kerry is still looking through the rear window. Not so much because of his remarkably poor choice of advisers -- Joe Wilson (the Politics Of Truth fraud), Max Cleland (with his schoolyard cries of "Liar, liar!") and Sandy Berger (with his pants on fire) -- but because Kerry's prescriptions (the U.N., the French) are so Sept. 10. A holiday from history is one thing. The Democrats are now embarked on a holiday from reality.


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