Repeat After Me: Al-Qaida Is Sunni

Hurray, everyone’s finally got their narrative! Hillary is untrustworthy —so every time she tells a story, critics will question it. Obama is inexperienced—so every time he does something naive, critics will jump on it. McCain is many things (ill-tempered, an economic dunce) but above all senile —so every time he appears to confuse Iraqi sects, critics start the retirement home drumbeat.

Well, McCain has just dished up some more fodder. While questioning Gen. Petraeus at today’s Senate armed services committee hearing, McCain appears to call al-Qaida in Iraq “a sect of the Shiites”—then catches himself and adds “or Sunnis or anybody else.” Nice recovery!

Sure, people are hypersensitive when it comes to McCain and the Sunni/Shiite divide ever since he confused the two sects during a press conference in Jordan. But then why does he keep doing it? He repeated the mistake on a radio show the same week as his Middle East trip. And now this. Shouldn’t someone from McCain campaign have forced him by now to write al-Qaida is Sunni on the chalkboard 100 times?

Obama has shown his willingness to twist McCain’s “100 years” comment. But McCain is just digging himself deeper with this one. While the “100 years” line is easily distorted, it’s also easily refuted. McCain is right when he says it’s absurd to suggest he doesn’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites—and that’s why he should really stop mucking it up.

Think Progress has video . Comedy gold, by Senate-hearing standards.