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McCain's Confusion Has Nothing To Do With His Age

I can appreciate the fact that the McCain campaign and Republicans in general are a little touchy about the senator’s age — running to be the olde

I can appreciate the fact that the McCain campaign and Republicans in general are a little touchy about the senator’s age — running to be the oldest president in U.S. history will do that — but that’s no reason to characterize every critical adjective in the language as some kind of slight about McCain’s septuagenarian status.

Poll after poll shows that more voters trust Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on matters of national security than they do Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois. Hoping to bridge that chasm, the Obama campaign and Democrats harped on comments McCain made on the Today show this morning, repeatedly calling the 71-year-old presumptive GOP presidential nominee “confused,” seeming to feed into concerns voters might have about the Arizonan’s age.

After McCain said this morning that it’s “not too important” when U.S. troops come home from Iraq, Obama aide Susan Rice said on a conference call that McCain’s comments reveal a “real confusion and lack of understanding of the situation in Iraq” and the larger region. She added that McCain’s series of errors of fact and judgment are “reflective of a pattern of lack of understanding and lack of strategic depth.”

Reporters, apparently having internalized McCain’s talking points, asked Rice if she was attacking McCain’s age by calling him “confused.” She responded, “[W]hat I meant by that is very simple — on critical, factual questions that are fundamental to understanding what’s going on in Iraq and the region, Sen. McCain has gotten it wrong. And not just once but repeatedly.”

Look, this is silly. Every criticism is not a veiled reference to McCain turning 72. People of all ages get “confused.”

Maybe McCain and the media can draw up a list of acceptable adjectives that McCain critics can use?

The kicker is McCain really has been confused. Whether he’s 72 or 22 is irrelevant — he’s been consistently wrong about Iraq, demonstrating time and again that he just doesn’t understand the basics.

* McCain has been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about the source of violence in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda.

* McCain has been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi’ia.

* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ responsibilities in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about what transpired during the Maliki government’s recent offensive in Basra.

* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ ability to travel around Baghdad “in a non-armed Humvee.”

* McCain has been so confused about Iraq, in November 2006, he couldn’t even do a live interview about the war without reading prepared notes on national television.

And we’re not supposed to say McCain’s “confused”? Why, because it might make him sound old?

Tell you what, reporters and McCain campaign, pick a better adjective for us. “Confused” sounds like an attack on his age? Fine. You tell me. Befuddled? Bewildered? Baffled?

The problem isn’t that McCain’s critics are picking loaded terms; the problem is McCain doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about when it comes to his signature issue.

Why we’re not supposed to mention this is a mystery. I guess I’m confused.

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