Jim Hoft caught this odd statement from Martha Coakley in last night’s debate, a moment that went mainly unnoticed before now. While most of the post-debate attention has focused on Scott Brown’s Reaganesque moment in declaring that the Senate seat doesn’t belong to the Kennedy family or the Democrats but to all Massachusetts voters, Coakley had a Gerald Ford-esque moment on the war in Afghanistan. She declared Afghanistan to be terrorist-free and wants the troops to come home now:
I think we have done what we are going to be able to do in Afghanistan. I think that we should plan an exit strategy. Yes. I’m not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that. They’re gone. They’re not there anymore.
The timing on this was rather poor, considering the deaths of eight CIA officers in Afghanistan just ten days ago at the hands of a suicide bomber. Jim clips together the suicide bomber’s valedictory message made just prior to his attack to underscore the point. The terrorists are definitely still in Afghanistan, both foreign and domestic, and capable of carrying out attacks.
Now, one could make an argument that our presence in Afghanistan provokes terrorist attacks such as the one that killed the eight CIA officers less than two weeks ago. I’d disagree with that — we weren’t in Afghanistan until after al-Qaeda firmly established itself there, with the blessing and the bidirectional support of the Taliban government — but it’s still an arguable point. Coakley didn’t make that argument, however, but instead insisted in quasi-Orwellian fashion that there are no terrorists left in a nation that just had a terrorist attack.
In the 1976 presidential campaign, Gerald Ford lost whatever chance he had for victory by asserting that Poland wasn’t under the direction of the Soviet Union, making him look detached from reality and throwing the election to Jimmy Carter. Hopefully, the voters of Massachusetts will make the same determination about Coakley in the aftermath of this debate and send someone much wiser than Carter or Coakley to Washington.