A Washington Post blog reports on an interview with state Rep. Joe Carr on his challenge to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, mostly devoted to Carr’s as-yet-unsuccessful quest for $5 million or so in spending by conservative advocacy groups. Then there’s the history lesson, both in recent foreign policy and, of course, the Davy Crockett-Sam Houston analogy both candidates are using:
Without that investment so far, Carr has focused his first round of attacks against Alexander’s behind-the-scenes work in helping reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
He’s not nearly as polished as Rubio and Cruz were by the time they entered their respective primary bids, and his knowledge of foreign policy may leave some large donors unimpressed. His biggest critique of the Bush White House’s foreign policy was using military force against Iraq (which began in March 2003) before Afghanistan (which actually began in October 2001).
“We went to Iraq first and then Afghanistan, if you remember. At least in a forceable way. I thought the order in which we dealt with the terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Iraq was out of order. We should have done Afghanistan first,” he said.
Still, the history lesson Carr cares about now – and the one he hopes that outside groups embrace – is turning around Alexander’s use of the metaphor of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston.
“There wouldn’t be a Sam Houston or a republic of Texas had it not been for the 36 Tennesseans who died at the Alamo,” Carr said, rejecting Alexander’s call for Republicans to use Houston’s retreat to higher ground as better strategic thinking. “They had a chance to leave, they did have a chance to leave. But they said no, because what we’re fighting for is worth our lives. If it hadn’t been for the battle cry, remember the Alamo, I doubt Sam Houston and the rest of the Tennessee patriots in Texas would have had the opportunity to save Texas.”
UPDATE: Hillary Pate of the Carr campaign sends the following via email on this post:
“Representative Carr’s comments on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were taken out of context. While Carr is fully aware that the United States went to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 after the terrorist attack on 9/11, he is equally aware that the United States did not go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq until March 2003. His comments were meant to communicate his belief that our government made a mistake by shifting focus to Iraq before the mission in Afghanistan was resolved.”
Carr, in a phone call, said pretty much the same.
“In the course of this campaign I’m going to make plenty of mistakes, but that wasn’t one of them,” he said. “I’m fully aware that we went into Afghanistan in September or October, 2001, then turned around and went into Iraq in 2003.”
The Post quote is correct, he said, but “the qualifier to that statement was ‘in a foreceable way’.”