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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baghdad John

I came across something a few days ago that put me a bit at ease. Crooks and Liars tells us that, on FOXNews Sunday, founding neocon, editor of The Weekly Standard, and New York Times Columnist William Kristol said that Iraq would be good for John McCain.

...Politically, I think this is good for McCain for this reason: What’s the main challenge of the next President? Dealing with Iran. Dealing with Iran’s attempts to get mutual hegemony. Dealing with Iran’s attempt to destabilize Iraq. Dealing with Iran’s attempt to get nuclear weapons. Who do you want dealing with Iran over the next four years? McCain or Obama? I think that’s good for McCain.

Why does this assessment by a well-respected pundit make me -- an Obama backer -- feel better? Simple; Kristol's a freakin' idiot who has a near-perfect record of never being right about anything. Given a choice between Senator Bomb-bomb's or Barack Obama's idea of statesmanship, the vast majority would choose Obama's. The latest USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that only 18% of respondents thought military action against Iran would be a good idea. This shows two things; one, John McCain is completely outside the mainstream and, two, 18% of Americans are dumber than stumps.

McCain's reputation of a "maverick" and an independent is almost completely unearned. "The independent label sticks to John McCain because he antagonizes fellow Republicans and likes to work with Democrats," writes Libby Quaid of Associated Press. "But a different label applies to his actual record: conservative."

Actually, calling his record "conservative" is more than a little unfair to those rational people who still wear that label in the age of Bush. John McCain is right wing. And, on the issue of war, he's crazy right wing. The first tool in Sen. Bomb-bomb's toolbox is the military.

To get an idea of how little thought McCain gives to matters non-military, we only have to look at his statements about the war we're in now. McCain constantly confuses Sunni and Shia, Iran and al Qaeda, Sunni and Iran, Shia and al Qaeda. We can only assume two things here -- either he's amazingly ignorant of the facts in the middle east or he's lying. Let's be charitable and assume he's just an ignoramus when it comes to global politics.

In the recent crackdown by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government on Basra, McCain insisted that Muqtada al-Sadr waved the white flag. The opposite was true -- Maliki's government was hopelessly outmatched and it was Maliki who accepted terms, not al-Sadr. In fact, the Iraqi government recently fired 1,300 police and soldiers who "failed to fight in the offensive, which was the biggest operation the government had launched without backing from large U.S. or British ground units."

Remember, we're being charitable here and assuming John just doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. In fact, McCain shares this trait with Bush -- on far too many issues, the only options are that they're ignorant or they're lying. He claims, for example, that Iran is trying to destabilize Iraq -- for reasons he never gets around to explaining -- while apparently being entirely ignorant of the fact that Iran backs Maliki's government.

That'd be the same government McCain supports. Iran wouldn't just be John McCain's enemy, they'd be his sorta-kinda ally. You'd think that big Mr. Foreign Policy Expert would know these little details. Either John McCain has no idea what's going on or he's the second coming of Baghdad Bob.

Again, we're being nice about this and assuming he's a dope, not a lying propagandist.

Sometimes, this charitability is hard to maintain. The level of cluelessness required to make these statements reaches beyond credibility. Columnist Cynthia Tucker reminds us of just one such episode.

Of course, you'll remember that infamous episode last year, when McCain returned from a trip to Baghdad and declared to a talk show host that some of its neighborhoods were safe enough "you and I could walk through." It turned out that the senator had ventured out of the Green Zone only with 100 U.S. soldiers accompanying him and two Apache gunships and three Blackhawk helicopters overhead.

Still, I guess you could say he didn't notice all these soldiers and flyin' contraptions all around him -- they were camouflaged, after all. And he's old, so maybe his hearing's so bad he didn't catch the deafening chucka-chucka-chucka of helicopters overhead. Maybe he didn't notice the big, heavy bullet-proof vest he wore.

It could happen.

So William Kristol and John McCain are in the same boat -- they're completely wrong about an amazingly large number of things. And McCain and Bush are likewise in the same boat -- when they're wrong on so many basic facts, the nicest thing you can say about them is that they're just ignorant as hell.

I'm starting to think that maybe the nicest assessment isn't exactly the truest. Either way, neither is a very good trait to have in a president.


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