Tried Mr. Biden: "But this is — this — I'm — I'm — I'm getting myself angry about it. I mean, uh — uh — uh — "
"It's unimaginable that Petraeus came before the Senate and spoke," the MSNBC host opined. "Imagine what this is going to sound like on Armed Services Radio tonight and television when they watch the commander say they don't know whether they're making America safer or not. And he's asking them to go into battle every day. It's maddeningly stupid. And this President [Bush] seems to be hiding behind a guy he gave the orders to and then is expecting him to defend the policy."
We'll have to await the memoir of Gen. David H. Petraeus to know his exact thoughts surrounding his two days of often grueling testimony before Congress on the Iraqi surge, although we wouldn't be surprised if he echoed the sentiments attributed in 1863 to another famous general, Robert E. Lee:
"It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers. In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I am readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I will, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials — after the fact."
Note to readers: Inside the Beltway is aware that the above quotation is deemed by some as a "spoof" being used by supporters of President Bush against critics — especially those in the press — of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
However, we clicked into the Internet-based Urban Legends Reference Pages yesterday, which states that while the quote has been attributed to other history-makers, including the Duke of Wellington, "the evidence weighs in favor of a Robert E. Lee attribution."
In fact, although worded slightly differently, the quote is found in the 1875 volume "Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters to Gen. Robert E. Lee," as presented by B.H. Hill.
We've come across some often hilarious excuses when congressmen submit the required "personal explanation" for being absent from crucial voting on Capitol Hill.
Most recently, for example, we told you about a congresswoman who acknowledged being "exhausted" from all the congressional infighting and, therefore, she needed a few days' rest.
This week, however, Rep. Jerry Weller, Illinois Republican, received some understanding nods from his colleagues when he informed the House speaker that on legislative days Sept. 4 through Sept. 7, "I was absent caring for my one-year-old daughter."