- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

When the newly installed chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has a long, serious record on the subject calls the top three Democratic presidential hopefuls on the carpet for their unrealistic Iraq proposals, that’s a huge story. Huge. Not that the headlines this week show it. Sen. Joe Biden’s clumsy, failed attempt at praise for Sen. Barack Obama is instead the focus of the media’s racial-insensitivity microscope. This means we are missing yet another opportunity to push the nation’s Iraq debate in a meaningful direction. How frivolous.

Here are Mr. Biden’s criticisms of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Mr. Obama, which we have no choice but to reprint. They are simply getting too little attention.

On Mrs. Clinton: “I think it would be a disaster if that is her plan to, one, cap the American forces — I think we should lower the American forces — and two, cut off funding for the local Iraqi forces. They’re the people we’re supposed to be training… To do both simultaneously is counter-productive,” he told CNN’s “American Morning.” In sum: Her plan is “nothing but disaster,” he told the New York Observer.

On Mr. Edwards: “I don’t think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about,” Mr. Biden said about Mr. Edwards’ call for Congress to block funding for a troop increase and then to hastily withdraw some 40,000 troops. “John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, ‘I want us out of there,’ but when you come back and you say, ‘OK, John… what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?’ Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period?”

On Mr. Obama: “I don’t recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic.” Mr. Obama supports a cap on troop levels and wants full withdrawal by March 2008.

The media is far from shy about near-saturation Iraq coverage. Why not cover a real, actual substantive Iraq policy debate?

The culprits are not just the mainstream news outlets. It’s also the conservative media, all too eager to pounce on a powerful Democrat as he extricates his foot from his mouth.

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