Washington Post columnist Max Boot was forced to backtrack after offering a strange defense of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, arguing he did not die a “coward,” triggering a wave of mockery and outrage online.
One of President Trump’s loudest critics right of center, Boot has made a brand out of attacking the commander in chief at every opportunity. However, this week’s column presented Boot with a unique challenge: how to spin the news of the jihadi mastermind’s death into a jab at the president?
He found a way. Taking issue with President Trump’s description of Baghdadi as a “coward,” Boot shot back that the so-called Caliph’s death by explosive suicide – killing three of his own children in the process – itself proved his bravery. Apparently confident in that take, Boot even pulled the line from his column to post as a standalone tweet, but it soon provoked a torrent of ridicule from commenters online.
“Max Boot defended the courage of ISIS terror boss Baghdadi in order to spite President Trump,” one commenter said. “What a tragic, pathetic little man.”
Max Boot – champion of open-ended Middle East military intervention going back decades – penning a Baghdadi cowardice counterfactual because Trump is in the White House & ordered the successful mission to eliminate him has to be the Max Bootiest thing ever.
— Boris Ryvkin (@BRyvkin) October 28, 2019
Another user recalled Boot’s vocal support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq – not to mention every US invasion since – which blew open the floodgates of violence and extremism in the region, leading to the rise of the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups.
Max Boot is getting dragged right now for suggesting Baghdadi is not a coward because he blew himself up. Seems worth noting that Boot was an early, staunch advocate of the 2003 Iraq War, which helped create ISIS, the terror group Baghdadi led. https://t.co/Oj1YMPTlid
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) October 28, 2019
Reacting to the backlash, Boot later decided to delete his ill-fated tweet and scrub the Baghdadi line from his column altogether, offering an explanatory tweet in their place suggesting his words were misinterpreted.
An earlier version included a sentence questioning whether Trump was right to call Baghdadi a coward. That was removed b/c it wrongly conveyed the impression that I considered Baghdadi courageous. As I wrote Sun: Baghdadi was “a sick and depraved man.” https://t.co/R77v7ef0GR
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) October 28, 2019
Unfortunately for the hawkish columnist, his sudden reversal did little to quell the outpouring of criticism, even if it did save his tweet from being “ratioed” any further with dozens of harsh replies.
The assertion that Max Boot called Baghdadi heroic is contradicted by the fact that rather than being ratioed he deleted his tweet.
— Austere StickFigureText (@doug_in_tx) October 28, 2019
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