Last year, during the presidential debates, a girl named Tammy wandered into where my girlfriend, some friends, and I were watching Kerry's dismantling of Bush. This was during the first confrontation, the one between the Incredible Shrinking President and his surprisingly large challenger. Bush, you'll remember, slipped up and blamed Hussein for 9/11. Kerry caught him. Bush admitted the mistake. Tammy said he was right the first time. The rest of us looked at her. Finally, I knew what "agog" felt like.
Her argument wasn't what one would call an argument, more a set of gut level intuitions. In the end, after hearing Bush's handpicked 9/11 Commission obliterated the linkage, she shook her head and said: "Well they're wrong. It's just common sense." Not the most heartening conversation. On the other hand, at least she's not a congressman:
"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.
Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."
Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that Saddam was a dangerous man, but when asked about Hayes' statement, would not link the deposed Iraqi ruler to the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.
"I haven't seen compelling evidence of that," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN.
The 9/11 Commission had full access to all levels of information and they thought the same as McCain. Even Bush, who one would think has fairly high level clearance, said "We have no evidence that Hussein was involved with the September 11 [attacks]."
Of course, that's not exactly what came out of his mouth last night. Yesterday's speech about Iraq mentioned 9/11 six times, but WMD's were wholly absent. Osama bin-Laden appeared in the speech twice as often as Zarqawi or Saddam, and the term "terrorist" was used almost 4 times as often as "insurgent" ("terror), for its part, popped by 5 times). If Hayes is crazier than most, all he's doing is listening closer than the rest of us.
Also: Don't miss Rep. Hayes' website, home of the most patriotic banner of all times. Superimposed on an American flag is a fighter jet, astronauts, cotton, and NASCAR. I broke into a spontaneous rendition of our national anthem as soon as the image loaded.