Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
The Iraq general's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee was predictable: progress is real, we must stay the course. But committee Democrats missed an opportunity to undercut the White House story.
As General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday and pitched a story of success in Iraq, a news update flashed on the television screen: Sadr threatens to end cease-fire. Meaning that civil war between the Shiite-dominated government of Baghdad and the Shiite movement led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr could erupt. But Senator John McCain, the senior Republican member at the hearing, seemed unaware of this development. He asked Petraeus, "What do you make of Sadr's declaration of a cease-fire?"
It's been four decades since Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed. On the occasion of this anniversary, there's much media coverage of his life and his death. In all the years that have passed since that tragic moment, a flood of commentary has flowed. Yet it remains hard to improve upon what Bobby Kennedy said on the night of that assassination in Indianapolis, where he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. He spoke extemporaneously and had the hard task of informing the crowd of King's violent death. Here is the audio of Kennedy's remarks accompanied by a photo montage:
As many commentators have noted, there were riots in cities across America when people learned of the news of King's murder, but there was calm in Indianapolis that horrible night.
Two months later, RFK would be shot and killed. If you want to see actual footage of Kennedy speaking to the crowd in Indianapolis (with Italian subtitles superimposed), you'll find it after the jump:
Yesterday I posted tough questions that a dozen national security experts would like to pose to General David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, when he testifies before Congress next week. And two retired generals have additional queries to add to the list. Here they are:
Retired General William Odom, former National Security Agency director:
-- What historical example is there for rebuilding a collapsed state from the bottom up except by civil war in which a single leader wins?
-- Why is Iraq not on the road to Balkanization? Fragmentation?
-- What historical example is there of the U.S. military building an army for a government whose leaders have neither the power to rule nor the capacity to bring warring factions under their control?
-- Do you propose to string out the surge although the Army simply does not have forces to continue?
-- Why did the Iraqi forces you trained a few years ago fail to emerge as an effective fighting force that survives and serves as the core of the Iraqi army today? If you succeeded, then why do we have this problem with standing up an effective Iraqi Army?
It's time for what's become a semiannual ritual: General David Petraeus comes to Capitol Hill. Last September, the top military commander in Iraq testified before several House and Senate committees in what was widely depicted as a make-or-break moment for the Bush administration and its war in Iraq. Wielding charts and graphs, Petraeus, who was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, claimed that the so-called surge of U.S. troops in Iraq was working and that "it is possible to achieve our objectives in Iraq over time." Such an outcome, he added, "will require a long-term effort." The questions he received from the legislators were mostly softballs. (Neither senators Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama were impressive when questioning Petraeus.) But when Republican Senator John Warner asked Petraeus if the Iraq War "makes America safer," the general replied, "I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted [it] out in my own mind." War critics zeroed in on that comment, yet Petraeus' performance was generally deemed a success, in that it appeared to have created political space (in the United States) for the war—six month's of space, at least. Petraeus told Congress that a decision on reducing the level of troops should be put off until March 2008 and that in half a year he would report back to Congress.
John McCain's new ad is titled, "Character Forged By Family." Here's a piece of the narration:
The family he was born into, and the family he is blessed with now, made John McCain the man he is, and instilled in him a deep and abiding respect for the social institution that wields the greatest influence in the formation of our individual character and the character of our society.
The ol' family values schtick—and McCain's family values—happen to incorporate military values. But for more on McCain and family values, let's turn to a 1999 Arizona Republic profile of McCain (which does not appear to be available on-line):
He prides himself on his personal integrity yet admits he wasn't faithful to his first wife, Carol, who was injured in a horrific car accident while McCain was in Vietnam....
McCain needed a divorce from his wife of 14 years, Carol, who had been badly injured in a car accident while McCain languished in Hanoi.
The marriage had been strained by his years of absence, along with McCain's admitted affairs after returning from Vietnam.
In February 1980, less than a year after he met Cindy, McCain petitioned a Florida court to dissolve his marriage to Carol, calling the union "irretrievably broken." Bud Day, a lawyer and fellow POW, handled the case.
"I thought things were going fairly well, and then it just came apart," Day recalls. "That happened to quite a few....I don't fault (Carol), and I don't really fault John, either."
McCain's entitled to use his life's story as part of his campaign narrative. But if his campaign is going to play the family card, there's more than, as the ad references, "honor, courage, duty, perseverance and leadership" in the story of John McCain, family man.