I'd like to introduce you to the next Democratic senator from Connecticut, Ned Lamont. At least that's what it looks like given Connecticut Democrats' opposition to the Iraq war, Lamont's resulting poll numbers, and the latest statements from our esteemed top military commanders. What do these events have in common? Let me explain.
Here's Arizona Sen. John McCain questioning Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday about the possibility of civil war in Iraq:
"General Pace, you said there's a possibility of the situation in Iraq evolving into civil war. Is that correct?"
"I did say that, yes, sir," Pace responded.
"Did you anticipate this situation a year ago?" McCain asked.
"No, sir," came Pace's answer, after a long pause.
Turning to Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, McCain said, "Did you, General Abizaid?"
"I believe that a year ago it was clear to see that sectarian tensions were increasing," Abizaid said. "That they would be this high, no."
Say what? Did two top generals just admit that a year ago they had no idea Iraq was descending into civil war, or seemed on the brink? The rest of the world did. Here's just one example, from the Sydney (Australia) Sunday Telegraph, in an article published on July 6, 2003:
"Now they [Iraqis] are chaffing under the dual irritants of a military occupation that has been unable to keep order and the loss of essential services. Private risk analysts are warning of an even chance of Iraq descending into open revolt--keeping much-needed investment funds away from the country."
If a reporter from an Australian newspaper was writing about the possibility of civil war in Iraq three years ago, why weren't our generals aware of the possibility one year ago?
What about this dispatch a little more than a year ago from the Times of London?
"Iraq is slipping into all-out civil war, a Shia leader declared yesterday, as a devastating onslaught of suicide bombers slaughtered more than 150 people, most of them Shias, around the capital at the weekend."
Here comes the part about Ned Lamont. We all know by now that the millionaire cum politician is doing the unthinkable--challenging an incumbent from his own party--and doing it well. A Quinnipiac University poll out yesterday shows Lamont is actually doing it exceedingly well, beating incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman by 54 percent to 41 percent among likely Democratic primary voters.
What's driving Lamont's poll numbers? Stalwart Democrats' revulsion for this war and its inept execution by the Bush administration. Democrats are scrambling for a wedge issue. Now they have one. It's not Karl Rove's favorite: gay marriage. It's not the issue Democrats themselves have put forward: a hike in the minimum wage. It's that President Bush's top military strategists are inept enough to say in public that they didn't consider one year ago that Iraq might dissolve into civil war.