Chris Matthews 2008?

Posted: Sep 13, 2007 11:48 AM
Chris Matthews 2008?

 Matthews 2008

"General Petraeus won't say if the dying in Iraq will make America safer. Then what are we fighting for? What are the people dying for?"
Questions not asked this week by a Democratic Party leader, but by MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who come to think of it is sounding more like a presidential candidate these days than the candidates themselves.
Including 2008 presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who as a "Hardball" guest this week was unable to articulate his full feelings about Tuesday's testimony before the committee by Gen. David H. Petraeus on the Iraqi surge.

Tried Mr. Biden: "But this is — this — I'm — I'm — I'm getting myself angry about it. I mean, uh — uh — uh — "

"I understand, sir," interrupted Mr. Matthews. "You're very emotional about this ... And I keep thinking about General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. I didn't serve in the military, I was in the Peace Corps. But let me tell you something: General Eisenhower, when he met with the troops on D-Day, right before they took off and risked their lives, and lost them in many cases, he said, 'Good luck, soldier.' Imagine if he'd said to them, 'Good luck, soldier. I don't know what the hell you're fighting for, I don't know if this is going to make our country any safer or not.' It's unimaginable.

"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."

Editing generals

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.


Double duty

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."