We thought it was a little much Wednesday when George W. Bush thanked Donald Rumsfeld for overseeing the overthrow of "two terrorist regimes." But when it comes to doling out credit where it certainly isn't due, the president can't hold a candle to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
"You don't hear much about Afghanistan," Hatch said in praising Rumsfeld Wednesday. "We certainly won that war."
Well, actually, we have heard much about Afghanistan, and what we've heard suggests that it's a little early to be talking about the war there in the past tense. A U.S. government-funded report released late last month says that the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan is now at a "tipping point" as security conditions there decline rapidly. And as Reuters reports, the Bush adminstration is now acknowledging that efforts to spread the reach of Hamid Karzai's government out into the provinces is proving harder than expected. "I think we have all been surprised by the intensity of the violence this year," Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian Affairs, said today. "It has a number of factors: part of it is drug money linking up with the insurgency. Part of it these people have the ability to operate in and out of Pakistan. But we need to deal with it."
Hatch was smart enough not to declare "mission accomplished" on Iraq Wednesday -- that's old news anyway -- but he did say that Rumsfeld's reputation shouldn't be tarnished by the state of the war there. To suggest otherwise, he said, "You'd have to tarnish every young American who served over there."