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What Grassley doesn't know about the 'twilight struggle'

Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) Twitter feed is an endless source of odd opinions -- after President Obama's second inaugural last week, the senator said Mitt Romney has the president "on the defensive" -- most of which are too silly to take seriously.

But this one stuck with me.

To translate from twitter-ese, Grassley is noting that the president, in his inaugural speech, mentioned that a "decade of war is ending." That's true -- Obama said that, and it's accurate.

But Grassley apparently has a problem with the sentiment, saying that the "war on terror" began 25 years ago -- it's unclear how he arrives at that number -- and it's not ending at all. The senator added that John F. Kennedy said "it will be a long twilight struggle."

It's important to understand just how very wrong Grassley is about, well, every aspect of this policy. For one thing, terrorism against the United States, and the nation's efforts to combat and prevent it, began well over 25 years ago. For another, as plenty of folks on the left and right have said, a nation cannot actually wage a war against a tactic.

But on a more substantive note, wars have to end, and nations cannot remain on a war footing literally forever.

I can only hope Grassley takes the time to watch Rachel's recent interview with outgoing Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson on this very subject.

And as for JFK, the former president wasn't referring to terrorism when he spoke of "a long twilight struggle." Here's the actual Kennedy quote: "Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, 'rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation' -- a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

That is largely the exact opposite of the point Grassley intended to make. Alas, the senator seems to know about as much about history as he does about showing restraint on Twitter.