Outside Foleygate: Trent Lott, Bill Frist and "Mission Accomplished"

Nineteen U.S. troops have died in Iraq since ABC broke the news of a congressman's interest in underage pages.


Tim Grieve
October 3, 2006 11:08PM (UTC)

The Mark Foley-Dennis Hastert-John Boehner-Tom Reynolds-John Shimkus scandal is consuming most of our attention today -- not that we're complaining -- but there's other news to report as well.

Among the stories that would be stories on just about any other day:

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Trent Lott on Iraqis and Americans: On "The Daily Show" Monday night, Jon Stewart asked Lott to explain recent comments in which he said he didn't understand how Sunnis and Shiites are fighting in Iraq, since "they all look the same to me." Lott's response: "I always had trouble understanding -- Iraqis look like Iraqis, and Americans look like Americans ... Methodists, Baptists and Catholics live in my hometown. They all look the same to me, they all look like Americans." Is Lott clueless or just commendably colorblind? His hometown is Pascagoula, Miss., where census data shows that about 65 percent of the population is white and about 29 percent is black.

Bill Frist on the Taliban: You're either with us or you're against us, unless you're the Taliban, in which case you're against us but we'd like you to be with us. That's what the Senate majority leader said during a stop in Afghanistan Monday, we think. Frist said that there are now so many Taliban in Afghanistan that "you need to bring them into a more transparent type of government. And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful." After the Associated Press moved a report on Frist's comments under a headline reading, "Frist: Taliban should be in Afghan gov't," the majority leader's office put out a statement saying his words had been taken out of context.

George Allen on George Allen: If there's one man in the world who might be happy about the Foley case, it's the junior senator from Virginia: Sex talk with teenage pages has knocked the N-word right out of the news cycle. Allen sought to get his campaign back on track Monday night with a two-minute TV commercial that aired in every market in Virginia. Allen used the time to tell voters he wants to focus on "the real issues you want to hear about." While he said he'd brought some of his recent woes upon himself, he complained that "negative personal attacks and baseless allegations have also pulled us away from what you expect and deserve."

Woodward and Rumsfeld on "Mission Accomplished": When it turned out that the U.S. military's mission in Iraq hadn't been wrapped up as neatly as the White House had suggested, George W. Bush said it was the Navy, not his own staff, who put that "Mission Accomplished" banner up on the USS Abraham Lincoln. But Bob Woodward told Larry King Monday that the words "mission accomplished" were actually going to be included in Bush's speech on that day in May 2003 -- at least until Donald Rumsfeld intervened and got them out. "Rumsfeld was in Baghdad, and they sent him an advanced copy of the speech," Woodward said. "And he said, 'I almost died because "mission accomplished" was in the speech.' And he said, 'I got it out of the speech but I didn't get the sign down.'"

We don't know whether Rumsfeld tried to stop Bush from saying what he ultimately did say on the deck of the carrier. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," the president said. "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Nearly 2,600 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since then -- 19 of them since we started talking about Mark Foley's problems last week.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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