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Bush confuses APEC with OPEC, Australia with Austria

White House photo

Oops, Bush did it again. After telling Australia's deputy prime minister that "We're kicking ass" in Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush made two more of his characteristic verbal blunders at the APEC summit in Sydney.

In a speech this morning, Bush welcomed business leaders to the OPEC meeting, not the APEC meeting. Apparently, he got his PECs confused, referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries instead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. He made a quick save, though, by smiling and saying that he planned to attend an OPEC meeting next year. (The meetings section of OPEC's Web site, however, doesn't yet have anything listed for 2008.)

As he continued his speech, Bush recalled how Australian Prime Minister John Howard had gone to Iraq last year to visit "Austrian troops." Actually, there are no Austrian troops in Iraq, but there are 1,500 Australian military personnel in and around Mesopotamia.

You gotta give the prez credit for adding some comic relief to what might otherwise be a no-nonsense meeting of government officials and business leaders.

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How not to end the Iraq war

In today's New York Times, liberal columnist Paul Krugman condemns Democratic Sen. Carl Levin's recent olive branch to his Republican colleagues:

In light of all this, you have to wonder what Democrats, who according to The New York Times are considering a compromise that sets a “goal” for withdrawal rather than a timetable, are thinking. All such a compromise would accomplish would be to give Republicans who like to sound moderate — but who always vote with the Bush administration when it matters — political cover.

We've seen this debate before, when in February Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed a bipartisan resolution by Levin and Republican Sen. John Warner as lacking teeth. It was an accurate criticism, since the resolution would merely have expressed the Senate's opinion on Iraq. But at the time, Reid was hoping to force Republicans to vote on a stronger, binding resolution. It never happened. Now it looks like Senate Democrats are going to be outmaneuvered once again, and it's because Reid is too keen on punishing the Republicans for their support of the president's policy. If he really wanted to end the war, though, Reid would give GOP senators the cover they need to call for withdrawal. That's exactly what Levin is trying to do.