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This morning... Ross Douthat is talking about Iraq... Ruth Marcus is talking about Cantor... Kathleen Parker is talking about Cantor... And Dana Milbank is talking about John Boehner talking about Iraq.

Dana Milbank on the House none-leadership.

By week’s end, the speaker of the House was sorely in need of a change of subject.

His top lieutenant had been ousted by an unknown and underfunded college professor who enjoys Ayn Rand and karaoke, his Republican colleagues were engaged in a fractious succession race, and any hope of legislative achievement for the rest of the year had gone from slim to nil.

So John Boehner, facing the cameras for his weekly news conference Thursday, went to his usual fallback. He criticized President Obama — on job creation, veterans’ health care, the Bergdahl prisoner exchange, Syria, Libya, Egypt and, particularly, Iraq. Obama is “taking a nap,” the speaker said, while “we’ve seen big cities in Iraq overrun with terrorists.” He repeatedly demanded that the president (who at that moment was awake and in the Oval Office with the Australian prime minister) “get engaged” in Iraq.

Ah, but how? “Do you think the U.S. should be launching airstrikes?” inquired Nancy Cordes of CBS News. “And if not, what should the U.S. do?”

“I don’t know enough of the details about the airstrikes to comment,” the speaker answered. All he could propose was that we should “provide the equipment and the technical assistance that the Iraqis have been asking for.”

To be fair, Boehner doesn't know the president's next move yet, so he doesn't know what he's against.

Come on in. Let's see what the rest have to say.

The New York Times on the strange silence over prisoners being released from Guantánamo... by Bush.

In early 2003, military investigators traveled to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to interview one of the prison camp’s most valuable detainees, a Qaeda loyalist from Morocco named Abdullah Tabarak. According to multiple reports, Mr. Tabarak had been Osama bin Laden’s chief bodyguard and longtime confidant, and he gave himself up to help bin Laden elude capture shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But when the investigators arrived, Mr. Tabarak wasn’t in his cell. The guards would not say where he was. His disappearance was so mysterious that one investigator took to calling him “the milk carton guy.”

In August 2004, news reports from Morocco revealed he was back home in Casablanca. The Bush administration never explained the release...

 Republicans continue to rail against President Obama’s trade of five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on May 31, but prisoner releases in wartime are never simple or clean.

Abdullah Tabarak — who remains free — arguably poses a greater threat to the United States than the five Taliban detainees. Yet there was no outcry from Congress after the Tabarak release, no charges that it would undermine national security, embolden terrorists, or risk the lives of American troops abroad.

Hypocrisy, thy name is McCain. And Boehner.  And...

Ross Douthat is suddenly very concerned about Iraq.

Every so often, in the post-9/11 era, an enterprising observer circulates a map of what the Middle East might look like, well, after: after America’s wars in the region, after the various revolutions and counterrevolutions, after the Arab Spring and the subsequent springtime for jihadists, after the Sunni-Shiite struggle for mastery. At some point, these cartographers suggest, the wave of post-9/11 conflict will necessarily redraw borders, reshape nation-states, and rub out some of the lines drawn by Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot in a secret Anglo-French treaty almost 100 years ago.

In 2006, it was Ralph Peters, the retired lieutenant colonel turned columnist, who sketched a map that subdivided Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and envisioned Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite republics emerging from a no-longer-united Iraq. Two years later, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg imagined similar partings-of-the-ways, with new microstates — an Alawite Republic, an Islamic Emirate of Gaza — taking shape and Afghanistan splitting up as well. Last year, it was Robin Wright’s turn in this newspaper, in a map that (keeping up with events) subdivided Libya as well.

First off, Ralph Peters isn't retired. He's a full time idiot, and he works hard at it, thank you very much. Just add all these voices to the chorus of hand wringing over how our deliberate, regular, interventions intended to sap stability and strength from Iraq, have somehow left the country weak and divided. Huh.  

Maureen Dowd wrote at least two good columns in the last two months, so this week...

... the two regal blondes transfixing America at the moment: Hillary and Elsa.

Those close to them think that the queen of Hillaryland and the Snow Queen from Disney’s “Frozen” have special magical powers, but worry about whether they can control those powers, show their humanity and stir real warmth in the public heart.

Just as Elsa’s coronation suddenly became fraught, so has Hillary’s. Like Arendelle, America is frozen: The war still rages in Iraq, the Clintons still dominate the political scene and Hillary still obsesses about money, a narrative thread that has existed since she was thwarted in her desire to build a pool at the governor’s mansion in poor Arkansas and left the White House with a doggie bag full of sofas, rugs, lamps, TVs and china, some of which the Clintons later had to pay for or return. Even Chelsea was cashing in, getting a ridiculous, $600,000-a-year scion salary from NBC, far greater than that of many of the network’s correspondents.

Oh, I don't know, Maureen. At least Chelsea isn't indulging herself in the most trite, simplistic, and head-poundingly tired column imaginable.  Excuse me, Ms. pot. Kettle on line two.

Chelsea Manning has a different take on Iraq.

When I chose to disclose classified information in 2010, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. I’m now serving a sentence of 35 years in prison for these unauthorized disclosures. I understand that my actions violated the law.

However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.

If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.

Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality.

We could send Maureen Dowd. I'm sure she'd think of some way to blame a Clinton (pick one) and make insightful metaphors about Disney's Aladdin.

Ruth Marcus says Cantor's loss is not good for Democrats.

On one level, this reaction is entirely understandable. Cantor’s political shape-shifting and overweening ambition earned him few friends in either party. His cynical willingness to torpedo deals worked out between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner made him particularly noxious to Democrats.

And, politics being politics, knocking off the other side’s majority leader is, inevitably, going to be a feel-good moment — especially when the other side was only too happy to gloat about booting you out of the majority.

Yet on another level, the episode offers a disturbing commentary about the poisonous, polarized state of U.S. politics. Democrats seized on Cantor’s loss as an opportunity to paint Republicans as increasingly loony and intransigent: “A major victory for the tea party as they yet again pull the Republican Party further to the radical right,” Pelosi said in an election-night statement.

In other words, Democrats were completely truthful, which is something Marcus finds terribly vexing.

Kathleen Parker is also on Cantor damage control.

The Democratic Party was losing its narrative that the tea party wacko-birds control the GOP.

Thus, Dave Brat, the Republican nominee for Cantor’s seat, was a gift from Google. Or God. But I repeat myself. The narrative is back, baby!

In the nation’s capital, the mourning for Cantor was over faster than a Rick Perry gay fundraiser. It is an awesome day — or something — when Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz are grinning about the same state of affairs. You don’t know whether to signal Scotty to beam you up or whistle for Toto.

The truth is, the tea party will be lucky to oust Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in a primary runoff, though it would hardly be considered a rout. Cochran has been on the run lately, stumbling over a series of errors and literally dashing out the back door of one event to evade CNN’s Dana Bash.

The only reason the Tea Party is no longer causing so much trouble for established Reubpicans, is that the Tea Party already won.  The GOP  candidates are now swearing allegiance to the silliest of silly policies and conspiracy theories. It's all the Tea Party now.
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