Karen, having the taken the opportunity to quote my favorite Reagan line, you missed my point, reiterated here.

I was not particulary bothered and did not mention the death penalty issue or the comparison between Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on the matter.

What I did respond to was, first, the incorrect suggestion that there was some major booing of Hillary at the San Diego meeting, which did not happen, and, second, the portrayal of those who opposed the war policy as "lefty bloggers" or "granola caucus" or "peaceniks."

An accurate description of the meeting would have stated that her speech to 2,000 Democrats was well-received by the audience, not that rude and rabble-rousing lefty granola peacenik bloggers interrupted her with booing.

That description is as accurate as Dick Cheney on Iraq WMDs.

My more important objection is the Republican talking-point spin argument that suggests that those who oppose the war policy be demeaned with pejorative descriptions when the most powerful critics of the policy are within the military itself, or are those with vast military experience.

Military experience, I would add, that is close to 100 percent lacking throughout the armada of those who promote this war policy, virtually all of whom have demonstrated contempt for those who do have such experience by repeatedly ignoring and disrespecting their advice.

These experienced commanders include Gen. Franks, who wanted more troops; Gen. Shinseki, who should have received the Medal of Freedom; Gen. Zinni, who warned about this for years; and the entire command structure that wanted the reinforcements at Tora Bora to kill Bin Laden, not siphoning off troops to invade Iraq at the moment we should have killed the perpetrator of 9/11.

Somehow "Shinseki" and "granola" don't work in the same sentence. The generals and special forces who wanted to kill Bin Laden at Tora Bora and were denied reinforcements are not lefties, bloggers or peaceniks.

To repeat my key point:

The surge was opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Washington Post reported they had opposed it unanimously. I can't vouch for that, but I know a great deal about the opinion of military leaders, and they either opposed the surge unanimously, or darn close to it.

I don't believe Gen. Pace would know granola if it was handed to him!

The surge was opposed by the commanders in Iraq, and the president disrespected their views, as well as the Joint Chiefs, by doing it anyway.

If you believe that Gen. Abizaid or Gen. Casey are lefty bloggers or peaceniks, please advise.

The surge was opposed by Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is not exactly a granola kind of guy, and if he's a peacenik he's the only peacenik who ever devised a major miltary doctrine about overwhelming force.

The surge was opposed by Gen. Scowcroft, and even the RNC communications office would have a hard time putting granola in his mouth, or the word "peacenik" on his lips.


The surge was opposed by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), those well known granola eating lefties, as well as those famous lefty bloggers Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who between them have more military leadership, heroism and experience than the entire neoconservative movement, president and vice president combined.

You say tomayto, I say tomahto. If you say the opposition to the policy was from lefty bloggers, granola caucus members and peaceniks, I'll say the support for the war was from the greatest collection of former draft-dodgers, service-shirkers, and combat-avoiders ever assembled by any administration promoting any war.

Shall we dance, or detente, on the matter of pejoratives?

Regarding the blogs, where was there more truth about pre-war intelligence — on the Internet or from the major media, the president who claimed victory before the real war started, or grand seminars of armchair warriors who spent five years being wrong at the American Enterprise Institute?

Regarding Hillary's tactics, beyond confessing that my advice is taken in many circles, but has never been taken from hers on Iraq, I don't care.

My own view is that what Americans want, in a commander in chief, is clarity, professionalism and conviction, rather than maneuvering and triangulation.

The bigger issue, Karen, is that your president has created a big, big problem for my country.

Your president is the only president in history to have used war for such shameless partisan purposes and so disrespectfully treated not only Democrats but Republicans and military leaders with far sounder views, and far more military experience.

What Bush has brought to the table is a degree of partisanship, polarization, nastiness and ugly name-calling that no commander in chief has ever come close to.

Weren't you ashamed, Karen, when your party held a national convention that made fun of the Purple Heart? (C'mon, I know you were, 'fess up!)

If we are going to get out of this mess, it won't be with talking points, political spin, or name-calling.

This is not about lefty bloggers, granola caucus members or peaceniks, this is about America, and this is about whether our leaders will listen and learn, will accept sound judgment from those with far more military experience than they have.

Otherwise we will have continued catastrophe in Iraq and a Democratic landslide in 2008 that will make 2006 look modest.

The latter is fine with me, but not at the cost of the former.