Posted by: wtfwjd? | June 9, 2008

Listen to Bill!

Reflecting on McCain’s “green period” speech, Bill Kristol wants McCain’s campaign to make his candidacy all about tactics in Iraq:

Early 2007 was as close as we’re going to get to a commander in chief moment for Senators McCain and Obama. They had to make a judgment in a difficult real-world situation — not on the healed planet of Obama’s dreams. With the Iraq war going badly, McCain took the lead in calling for a change in military strategy and a surge of troops. Obama, by contrast, went along with his party in urging withdrawal. Now, 18 months later, McCain seems pretty clearly to have been right.

Can McCain get voters to compare his judgment with Obama’s in a moment when the two of them were confronted with a weighty choice? Can McCain get voters to consider his leadership in this instance, and get them to ask when Obama took a similarly courageous stand on any issue? Yes he can — but it’s not clear if his campaign will be much help.

First of all, McCain started calling for more troops in Iraq not in “early 2007” but in October, 2006before the Congressional midterms that went so poorly for the GOP. At the time, it looked like a bluff. It was clear that Bush wasn’t going to leave Iraq under any circumstance, but there was no sign he or Rumsfeld were interested in sending more troops. So McCain went on record offering something other than “stay the course” or “get the hell out” which seemed to be the two options on the table at the time. He basically invented the third path of “get in deeper” and like Kristol, I think we should make sure that McCain is acknowledged as the author of the “more troops” policy in an occupation that is showing no signs of ending. (McCain has infamously said US troops could be in Iraq for “maybe a hundred years” or even “a thousand years or a million years.”)

As for Kristol’s casual assertion that “18 months later, McCain seems pretty clearly to have been right,” well, the American people pretty clearly disagree. CBS News poll:

Americans are more pessimistic than ever about the prospects for a stable Iraq.

Sixty-one percent say Iraq will never become a stable democracy – the highest number since CBS News starting asking the question in December 2003. Just one third think Iraq will become a stable democracy, and most of them think that will take longer than two years.

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed say things are going well in Iraq, down from 40 percent in April. Sixty-two percent say things are going badly.

Americans would like U.S. troops to come home from Iraq sooner rather than later. 42 percent are willing to have U.S troops remain in Iraq for only a year or less. 21 percent say troops should stay for one to two years more, while 30 percent are willing to keep troops in Iraq longer than two years.

So my message to McCain’s campaign team: listen to Kristol! He’s been right wrong about everything else! Make your campaign all about the awesome Iraq war that is going so well! More troops! Longer war! Yay McCain!!

[ORLY image courtesy goopymart]

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