Iran and Al Qaeda

McCain's gaffe seems innocent enough to me. (If a Democrat has said it, you can be sure that the far right blogosphere would be all over it.) But I do fear that the tendency to conflate all terrorism and extremism in the Middle East with the Sunni al Qaeda as opposed to the Shiite Iranian proxies doesn't help us think clearly about our interests there. Alas, we have a president who invaded Iraq without even understanding a distinction between Shiite and Sunni Islam, and still failed to grasp it as late as 2006. McCain is not criminally ignorant as Bush is; but gaffes like this, especially given his age, are unfortunate.