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Do you want these people in control of Congress?

I've noticed a lot of Republican commentators, knowing that the vast majority of voters are feeling dissatisfied with and dejected by the record of our Republican-controlled government over the last few years, start to play the fear card. Their argument basically seems to be this:

I know our Republican-controlled government has screwed up royally in pretty much every conceivable way over the past few years, and there's no reason to think that anything will change if our party stays in power. But please, I'm begging you, don't stay home this year, don't cast a "protest vote," and for the love of God DON'T vote for the Democrat. Do you really want NANCY PELOSI, A HIGH-TAX SAN FRANCISCO (=gay!) LIBERAL POLITICIAN BABY-KILLER CUT-AND-RUNNER WE CAN'T TRUST, to become Majority Leader?!?!?!?!

They then proceed to list all of Pelosi's sins, and raise the fear factor by telling us what CRAZY LIBERALS will come to positions of power if the Democrats win control of the House.

As an antidote, consider the Republican fools that hold significant positions of power in our government right now. Here are a couple of examples from a recent op-ed in the New York Times:

[T]o his credit, Mr. Hulon, a distinguished agent who is up nights worrying about Al Qaeda while we safely sleep, did at least know that the vicious struggle between Islam’s Abel and Cain was driving Iraq into civil war. But then we pay him to know things like that, the same as some members of Congress.

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?? I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.?

To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,? he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.?

"Extremely difficult"--Ya think?! This also begs the question... what exactly are we doing over there? No one seems to know. "Stay the course" is not a plan that will help us "win" the occupation of Iraq. He's not the only Republican leader on national security who doesn't know the difference between Sunni and Shiite:

Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?? she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.? She took a stab at it: “It’s a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it’s the Sunnis who’re more radical than the Shia.?

Did she know which branch Al Qaeda’s leaders follow?

“Al Qaeda is the one that’s most radical, so I think they’re Sunni,? she replied. “I may be wrong, but I think that’s right.?

Did she think that it was important, I asked, for members of Congress charged with oversight of the intelligence agencies, to know the answer to such questions, so they can cut through officials’ puffery when they came up to the Hill?

“Oh, I think it’s very important,? said Ms. Davis, “because Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs. And you’ve got to understand, and to know your enemy.?

It’s not all so grimly humorous. Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha? question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

People, these are two of the Republican leaders that are supposed to know about this stuff. They hold important positions charged with overseeing our national security apparatus, but they are completely clueless. They don't believe the news from Iraq, challenging every piece of bad news with something like, "well, what about all the progress we've made over there? Why isn't the media reporting the positive stuff?"

Rather than try to make a real plan to deal with the chaos in Iraq, Republicans would rather rely on empty slogans like "stay the course!" and "support our troops!", and questioning those who dissent by asking, "Why do you hate America?" They gloss over their failures and deflect blame with ridiculous oversimplifications like this classic from Rick Santorum:

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

— Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), comparing the Iraq War with The Lord of the Rings, in an interview with the Bucks County Courier Times editorial board late last week [via Salon]

Somehow I doubt that "positive news" from Iraq is much consolation to the families of the 70 American soldiers killed this month in Iraq. Oversimplified and idiotic Lord of the Rings analogies are not much help to the families of the 655,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion.

We need leaders who are serious, who know their stuff, and who have the guts and intellect to see that we need a change of course in Iraq. Our Republican-controlled government has failed us. Vote Patty Wetterling for Congress.