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You're What's Happenin'!

By James Taranto
August 11, 2006

Ned Lamont, the Democrats' new agenda setter, has some deep thoughts on the war on terror, the Lamont-loving New York Times reports. They come in response to a comment from the man he seeks to defeat, Sen. Joe Lieberman:

"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England," Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event in Waterbury, Conn. "It will strengthen them, and they will strike again." . . .

"Wow," Mr. Lamont said, after twice asking a reporter to read Mr. Lieberman's remark about him. "That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney's comment on Wednesday. Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11. That's a false premise." . . .

Mr. Lamont hesitated when he was asked if Mr. Lieberman's criticisms were beyond the bounds of acceptable political combat.

"To try to score political points on every international issue--" Mr. Lamont said, before stopping himself. Then he added, "Why do I have to say anything?"

Come 2009, we may just find this Lamont fellow has what it takes to be President Gore's defense secretary.

It's interesting that the Times' reporter would think to ask "if Mr. Lieberman's criticisms were beyond the bounds of acceptable political combat." The Times editorial page declares as much, scolding Lieberman for "scoring a cheap sound bite yesterday" and whining:

It comes like a punch to the gut, at times like these, when our leaders blatantly use the nation's trauma for political gain. We never get used to this. It never feels like business as usual.

But one cannot credit the sincerity of this complaint, given that the paper criticizes only Cheney and Lieberman--not, to take one example, Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, who put out a statement that seems no less opportunistic. "This latest plot demonstrates the need for the Bush administration and the Congress to change course in Iraq," Reid opined. (Hey, wait a second--did he just say that Iraq has something to do with terrorism?)

It seems to us that all the comments here, including Reid's, are perfectly legitimate. The two parties have sharply different views on how to approach the terrorist threat--even sharper now that the Dems have ditched their most distinguished dissenter--and what could be more important in an election year than to debate this critical subject?

Oh, here is the Times' contribution to the debate:

Here is what we want to do in the wake of the arrests in Britain. We want to understand as much as possible about what terrorists were planning. To talk about airport security and how to make it better. To find out what worked in the British investigation and discuss how to push these efforts farther.

This is analysis worthy of "Schoolhouse Rock": To talk, to find, to understand. (Verb, you're what's happenin'!) It seems to us that the outrage on the left over the "politicization" of terror is a transparent and pathetic attempt to divert attention from the utter insubstantiality of the left's own approach.

For old times' sake, let's revisit a previous comment that the left similarly deemed "beyond the bounds of acceptable political combat." In June 2005, Karl Rove said:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

As we recall, the "therapy" line drew particular outrage. Yet here is the Times today:

There is nothing Americans want more than to win the war on terror, to come to a place where people no longer feel it is a fine thing to forfeit their own lives and the lives of innocents in order to make the world notice their anger and frustration.

This takes us back to the days when Al Franken was intermittently funny: I don't have to fly planes into buildings. I don't have to murder thousands of infidels. All I have to do is be the best Osama I can be. Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

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