It was a good question, even if it was a bit of a trap set by an experienced lawyer with a knack for pulling information out of people who would rather prefer to stay silent.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — who is also running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 — hit Defense Secretary Ash Carter with an uncomfortable question during the Pentagon chief’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. And Carter, who has never been a politician, answered honestly.
“What’s more likely?” Graham asked by way of slamming the White House for its policy of not doing more to oust the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “President Obama leaves office in 2017, or Assad goes first?”
Carter got right to it. “Well, it — it’s certain that President Obama will leave,” he answered. After a bit of cross-talk, Graham decided that he wanted to hear that again. “Who leaves first, Obama or Assad?”
Maybe thinking better of his earlier certainty, Carter backtracked just a bit. “Well, I certainly hope it’s Assad.”
Hope, as they say, is not a strategy.