Last night on the House floor, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) downplayed the violence on the ground in Iraq, claiming his wife is taking a greater risk by living in Washington, D.C. King said:
27.51 Iraqis per 100,000 die a violent death on an annual basis. 27.51. Now what does that mean? To me, it really doesn’t mean a lot until I compare it to people that I know or have a feel for the rhythm of this place. Well I by now have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, she’s at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq. 45 out of every 100,000 Washington, D.C. regular residents die a violent death on an annual basis.
King’s stats are faulty. First, using the most recent 2004 data, the violent casualty rate in D.C. is 35.8 deaths per 100,000, not 45. Second, the King comparison has an obvious problem of scale, comparing the entire country of Iraq to one concentrated urban area. Taking Baghdad for instance, the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index estimates an annualized murder rate of 95 per 100,000 Iraqis for that city, a rate more than 2.5 times as high as D.C.’s. (Brookings notes this number may be “too low since many murder victims are never taken to the morgue, but buried quickly and privately and therefore never recorded in official tallies.”)
Even the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page noted that King’s numbers have “painted a misleadingly Pollyanish picture of Iraq.”
Apparently, Bush hasn’t read King’s study. On his trip into Iraq today, Bush employed “extraordinarily-tight protective measures,” which were deemed necessary “because of Iraq’s tenuous security situation.” Bush “never seriously considered” staying overnight, wanting to leave Iraq immediately for the safety of Washington, D.C.