Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Clarifying for the worse?

Joshua Marshall has an excellent and fair critique of John McCain's statement this morning that, to him, 'it's not too important' when U.S. troops return from Iraq, and I agree with his assessment.

McCain attempted to spin this as Democrats taking his words out of context, but that isn't the case at all. The Arizona senator's clarification proves that, as he notes that he is rightfully concerned about lowering the casualty rate in Iraq and that when we bring our troops home isn't as important to him because he believes they should be there for 100 years or however long he feels necessary.

And, though it may not sound like it, I'm not intending to criticize McCain's position on the matter, Despite my disagreement with it, I think it's a perfectly logical position to hold given McCain's views on foreign policy, Iraq, etc. The problem as I see it is exactly what Marshall notes, which is that in a political campaign this position is pretty unpopular with the vast majority of the American population so attempting to spin this as Democrats taking his words out of context is ridiculous.

The problem for the McCain campaign is that he keeps stumbling into clear statements of his actual policy, which is close to lethal since the vast majority of Americans disagree with his policy and Iraq is virtually the only thing he's running on. The context the McCain campaign keeps trying to put forward after the fact is what they wished he'd said rather than what he did. And even that, when you push deep, isn't that different from McCain's actual policy, which is that he doesn't think we should be leaving Iraq for years to come, most likely decades.

McCain meant every word he said, and he has a sincere belief in his views on Iraq. And, to be clear, that isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's quite refreshing if he would actually hone up to it because, again, it could afford us the opportunity to watch an actual debate over contrasting policies.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan gets it too and offers up his own quality take on this discussion. Again, this is refreshing. If McCain believes we should be in Iraq forever with 60 permanent bases, then more power to him. If Obama disagrees with that notion, more power to him as well. Let's have an actual debate on issues like this and sort out the direction we want our country to go.


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