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Levin: The Most Intellectually Dishonest Senator?

9:49 AM, Sep 23, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Regular readers of this space know that Michigan Senator Carl Levin is one of the smartest and least intellectually honest members of Congress. (See here, here, here, and here.)

His favorite trick is simply to leave out inconvenient arguments, embrace what he likes and completely change the meaning of the language in question.

His statement from Monday, September 21, on the report by General Stanley McChrystal gives us another example.

In his statement, Levin opens his second paragraph by writing:

Perhaps the most important judgment General McChrystal has made - one with which I wholeheartedly agree - is that "focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely."

Reading just Levin's account of the McChrystal report one might conclude that McChrystal believes that force and resource requirements are unimportant. Here's the entire sentence from the McChrystal report: "Additional resources are required, but focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely."

In fact, McChrystal's report makes precisely the opposite point: without such additional forces and resources the war is lost. As the Washington Post's Bob Woodward wrote, McChrystal "repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely." The headline over Woodward's piece captured its essence. "McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure.'"

McChrystal believes that a focus on forces and resources misses the point because it is a given that additional resources are required. The war is not winnable without them.

We've come to expect this kind of intellectual dishonesty from Levin. So it's not at all surprising that he is blocking a request from Republican senators on the Armed Services Committee to invite McChrystal to the Hill for a hearing. Republicans on the committee sent Levin a letter yesterday, following up on a September 18 letter from John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. Yesterday's letter, was signed by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, James Inhofe, Jeff Sessions, Saxby Chambliss, John Thune, Roger Wicker, Richard Burr and David Vitter

We feel that it is essential that the Congress and the American people, who are understandably weary after nearly eight years of war, understand why the future of Afghanistan is linked to our own safety and prosperity at home. it is equally important that they understand the comprehensive strategy and commitment of resources that our military commanders believe necessary to win this crucial fight.

Levin responded to the McCain/Lieberman/Graham yesterday, September 22, calling such public testimony "premature." Why?

At the present time, while General McChrystal has submitted his assessment of the situation on the ground and his recommendations concerning the strategy for Afghanistan up through the chain of command, he has not yet submitted his recommendation as to the resources that he believes would be needed to implement the strategy.

Got that? On September 21, Levin argued that the issue of resource requirements was beside the point. On September 22, he argued that it was so important that he couldn't possibly invite McChrystal to the Hill until such questions were resolved.

Okay, maybe Levin isn't one of the smartest members of Congress after all.