Anyone besides me remember this?
MR. RUSSERT: But how many troops--how many men and women do we now have on active duty?Does anyone else besides me remember all the crap that Howard Dean took after that, from the GOP, from the media, from conservative warbloggers? The critics were everywhere. I had just started blogging back then and I was neck-deep in the Dean campaign, and it all remains pretty vivid to me.
DR. DEAN: I can't tell you the answer to that either. It's...
MR. RUSSERT: But as commander in chief, you should now that. [. . .]
DR. DEAN: So your perception--your position is that I need to know exactly how many people are on duty today in the active military forces...
MR. RUSSERT: Well, have a sense...
DR. DEAN: ...six months away from the first primary?
MR. RUSSERT: If somebody wants to be president of the United States, have a sense of the military.
It's all I've been thinking about the last couple of days after John McCain said, while he was here in Wisconsin, "We have drawn down to presurge levels" in Iraq. We haven't--troop levels there are about 15% higher right now than they were before last summer's "surge."
Look, foreign policy is supposed to be McCain's area of expertise. It's supposed to be the one thing that he knows really, really well. The Iraq war, in particular, is supposed to be McCain's ace in the hole--if anyone can finally win this war, McCain would have us believe, it's him. Yet McCain consistently shows he has no idea what's going on in Iraq, from this latest blunder to having to be corrected by Joe Lieberman about who is funding which insurgents. I respect the fact that he served and that he was a POW in Vietnam. That takes a lot of character and I respect him for that. But he clearly doesn't know what's happening now, not a deep level nor even at the basic level of how many troops we have serving there.
And, as Tim Russert would say, as commander in chief, you should know that.