February 29, 2008

Joe Conason: John McCain’s Political Quagmire

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Volt @ 10:44 am

Joe Conason, TruthDig, February 28, 2008

Within the next two weeks, the number of American troops killed in Iraq is likely to reach 4,000, assuming that the average number of fatal casualties per day remains steady. It is an arbitrary number, given meaning by the fact that the nation may briefly take notice, but a day will come in this presidential campaign when Sen. John McCain must explain what he thinks we have gained by the sacrifice of those men and women.

Anticipating that prospect must make McCain uneasy. Speaking to reporters on his campaign bus the other day, he worried aloud that unless he can persuade voters that current policy is succeeding in Iraq, “then I lose. I lose.”

Almost immediately he regretted his candor and asked for a quick rewrite. “If I may, I’d like to retract ‘I’ll lose.’ But I don’t think there’s any doubt that how they judge Iraq will have a direct relation to their judgment of me, my support of the surge,” he said. As the presumptive Republican nominee – representing the continuation of a presidency that has fallen from favor with as many as eight out of 10 Americans – McCain has ample reason to worry. His forthright support of President Bush, the war and the escalation of the past year is unlikely to endear him to independent voters who otherwise admire his maverick image and reform record. They still feel betrayed by the exaggerations and lies that led us into war. They don’t want to spend any more lives or money on this misadventure.

Against that overwhelming public sentiment, McCain insists that he can see “a clear path to success in Iraq,” with American and civilian casualties declining and Iraqis assuming responsibility for their own security. The Arizona senator evidently realizes that his recent prediction of a century-long American occupation did not go over well. “All of us want out of Iraq,” he told the Associated Press on Feb. 25. “The question is, how do we want out of Iraq.”

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