Bush & Co's war in Iraq is just plain criminal, especially given how they are taking away veterans benefits and privatizing the military at the same time they send our troops to die, and to no one's benefit but their friends in the oil industry and at Halliburton and Bechtel.

While the human and financial toll of the war in Iraq continues to escalate - 250 Americans killed and $71 billion spent so far with no end in sight - the chicken hawks who got us into this mess have the nerve to use ignorant jingoism as a political strategy.
"To try to gauge just how out of touch the Democrat leadership is on the war on terror, just close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet on the deck of that aircraft carrier," Tom DeLay, R-Texas, told a group of college Republicans. "I don't know about you, I certainly don't want to see Teddy Kennedy in a Navy flight suit anytime soon."

It would be easy to dismiss Tom DeLay as just another idiot from Texas, if he weren't the Republican House Majority Leader. Is this the best the GOP has to offer? Well, apparently yes, but don't forget about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, Rick Santorum, William Pryor, Priscilla Owen, John Poindexter ... the list of Republican idiots goes on and on and on.

Republicans deserve better leadership than this. Hell, we all do.

DeLay isn't the first Republican to use the argument that the Democrats are soft on national security because they think twice about engaging our troops in ill-conceived wars. The GOP successfully ran a campaign to defeat Senator Max Cleland in Georgia last November. Cleland is a triple amputee and decorated Vietnam veteran, yet his Republican opponent accused him of not being tough on national security.

In a letter to the House Majority Leader on Friday, Cleland called DeLay's comments "reprehensible" and added:
"This country deserves more patriots like Senator Kennedy, not more chicken hawks like you who never served."

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, also a Democrat and Vietnam veteran, chastised DeLay in a letter Friday for his "tasteless and unnecessary smear of Senator Kennedy." The remark's tone, he said, seemed to question Kennedy's military service record.

Kennedy served in the Army. DeLay did not serve in the military.

Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the incident was "another missed opportunity for DeLay to set a good example in front of an audience of young people rather than promote the politics of personal destruction."

Apparently DeLay's spokesperson isn't any smarter than he is, since this was his defense of his boss's comments:
"The Democratic party has a lot to answer for in terms of their decimating our intelligence and not being there for our military and our national defense," he said. The military veterans in Congress, he said, don't have exclusive rights to opinions on national security.

No, they don't. But with the Republican Party being led by guys like Tom DeLay, it appears that the Democrats may have exclusive rights to intelligence, not to mention statesmanship.