McCAIN BEFUDDLEMENT WATCH….Ilan Goldenberg is watching the Crocker/Petraeus hearings so you don’t have to. Second person up is John McCain, who suggests that despite its recent problems, al-Qaeda in Iraq is still an important threat in Iraq (video here). “Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites all overall?” he asks Petraeus — before hastily adding “or Sunnis or anybody else.” Ilan Goldenberg comments:

So, I’ve watched this video a number of times because I really wasn’t sure at first. But McCain did genuinely mix up Sunnis and Shi’a again. Saying that Al Qaeda was a Shi’a group before quickly correcting himself. Now, I know that there is a bit of gotcha going on here. But this man claims that his greatest qualification for the Presidency is that he understands foreign policy. But the differences between Sunni and Shi’a matter. They matter a lot! And this nasty habit of mixing it up just seriously needs to stop.

I suppose that eventually the press is bound to notice that McCain is seriously confused about the religious and political dynamics of Iraq and the greater Middle East, right? Maybe around December or so.

In other AQI news, Dana Goldstein reports that McCain isn’t the only person in the room sowing confusion. Ryan Crocker’s seems a little more deliberate, though:

Throughout this Senate hearing, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have persisted in shortening “Al Qaeda in Iraq” to plain old “Al Qaeda,” despite the fact that these two organization have different leaderships, geneses, and missions. Yet when Crocker mentioned “Hezbollah in Iraq,” he made sure to clarify, “That doesn’t imply a connection to Lebanese Hezbollah.”

Hmm. Could there, just maybe, be a political motivation for confusing our “Al Qaeda” terms?

Ya think?

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