Something tells me Zach Carter won't be making many media appearances in the months to come, at least not while still employed by Huffington Post.
HuffPo's "senior political economy reporter" -- quite possibly the only time you'll see that job title -- made a mess of things during a recent appearance on Hugh Hewitt's radio show by demonstrating that his opposition to the Iraq war is a mile wide and knowledge of events leading to it an inch deep. (Audio clips after the jump)
Before getting to that, Carter also revealed his ignorance about a central figure in Soviet espionage against America. His admission came after Hewitt asked him about his background (University of Virginia grad, 2005), previous work experience (banking reporter at SNL Financial), and age (31). Then came this -- (audio)
HEWITT: I have a little ritual for first-time guests on this show, by the way. It's a three-question ritual. Are you ready for it?
CARTER (initially enthusiastic): Sure, let's go.
HEWITT: Do you know who Alger Hiss is?
CARTER (chuckles after awkward pause): No.
HEWITT: You don't?
HEWITT: Then it's only a two-part, then you automatically don't get past the second one, 'cause the second part of the ritual is to ask whether or not you thought he was a Soviet spy.
CARTER (laughs nervously): Uh, well, I'll go ahead and say that if I had known who he was, yeah, sure, I would think he was a Soviet spy.
What passes for progress from "progressives" -- they've gone from vehemently denying that the Harvard-educated, New Deal diplomat Hiss was guilty -- to having no idea who he was. Which isn't surprising, given that declassification of the Venona cables in the mid-1990s confirmed that Hiss spied for Stalin. In response, the left has done what Stalinists always do when unpalatable revelations arise -- they airbrush them away. Hence a young man can attend a prominent East Coast university and later write for one of the most popular of liberal websites and somehow remain clueless about a pivotal episode in the Cold War.
Go figure, it turns out that Carter is also befuddled when it comes to Iraq. After he and Hewitt argued about former vice president Dick Cheney's remarks about the worsening situation there, Carter made another illuminating admission (audio) --
HEWITT: So let me ask you this, why do you think ...
CARTER: It seemed like pretty specious claims (alluding to the Bush administration's rationale for war in Iraq) that have not been held out by history and so from my point of view it becomes very difficult to understand why we went to war. People like Hillary Clinton say, well, we just got it wrong, the intelligence ...
HEWITT: ... but time out, Zach! Zach ...
CARTER: ... and the argument I've heard from Cheney is that, is that basically things have been, have gone as Cheney had hoped and there have been some, maybe it should have worked out slightly better or we wouldn't have been there as long, but basically the reasons that he cited have been vindicated.
HEWITT: Well, Zach, again, when you read his memoir, come back and we'll talk about that, but what I'm curious to ask you is, why do you think Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998?
CARTER (more nervous laughter): Uh, I, I'm not really familiar with Bill Clinton bombing Iraq in 1998.
HEWITT (calmly going for jugular): Did you know that he did that?
What's this, the United States had problems with Iraq ... before George W. Bush?!
As I wrote in a post last week about liberal radio host Thom Hartmann claiming the elder Bush "murdered" thousands of Iraqi soldiers fleeing Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, the justification for war with Iraq in 2003 cannot be understood unless one looks back at the Persian Gulf war and the dozen years leading to the second war. During that period, Saddam Hussein issued repeated false declarations of his WMD stockpiles and thwarted UN weapons inspectors at every turn, to the point of expelling them altogether in November 1998.
The following month, the US and Britain bombed Iraq in Operation Desert Fox, the attack delaying the House vote to impeach Clinton by one day. Two months earlier, Congress had overwhelmingly approved, and Clinton signed into law, the Iraq Liberation Act specifically calling for regime change in Iraq.
It was not until after 9/11 that Bush, an isolationist Republican, grasped that previously tolerated threats to American security could no longer be tolerated -- even if they were not complicit in the attack itself. Clinton's failure (and arguably that of the elder Bush) to resolve conflict with Iraq succeeded only in emboldening Saddam -- and al Qaeda.
Focusing on such inconvenient history (or even being aware of it) risks straying from the trusty liberal narrative that Iraq is All Bush's And Cheney's Fault.
Perhaps the Huffington Post should be more careful when it doles out jobs with "senior" in the title. Seems that it confers little more than self-esteem on those it is bestowed upon.