Are we really supposed to believe the fact that Mike Huckabee referred to Afghanistan as being on Pakistan's "eastern" border rather than its "western" border shows he's not cut out to be president? This is the kind of mix-up people make all the time, and it's really hard to think of a situation in which it would cause a problem in practice. President Huckabee's sitting down there with the Joint Chiefs, they're talking about Afghanistan, and he says "we need to halt the flow of supplies from across the eastern border of Pakistan" and then, what, we accidentally start bombing India because nobody wanted to correct the president? That's silly. I bet we've had tons of people win elections who think that Sydney is the capital of Australia or who couldn't tell you which one is Latvia and which is Lithuania. It's not a big deal. I was in a geography bee when I was a kid, and I like the geography category in Trivial Pursuit but this stuff isn't the essence of grand strategy.
Meanwhile, it had always been my impression that Afghanistan was (roughly speaking) north of Pakistan, not west of it. Looking back at the map, you can see the border is a bit curvy so there's not a definitive answer, but if I were giving an schematic description I would say Pakistan is north of the Indian Ocean, west of India, east of Iran, and south of Afghanistan. The "western" description is defensible, but it's not nearly as clear-cut as the idea that Canada is across our northern border. To the press, though, not knowing that Afghanistan's west of Pakistan is a huge gaffe. And yet how many campaign reporters new this? Can we make them all take a trivia quiz? Or maybe we could replace the messy and absurd Iowa Caucuses by having the leading candidates all sit down for a game of Trivial Pursuit -- I'd watch that.
Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.