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Friday, August 08, 2008

Reality, Once Again, Shifts Left

John McCain spoke to a rally in Lima, Ohio yesterday. Ohio, a swing state, seems to be a major part of McCain's strategy -- the monopoly property he plans to build his hotel on. McCain is currently behind in that state -- 46%-44% -- but figure in the margin of error and it's a tie.

So it was that Baghdad Johnny returned to one of his favorite themes -- how Barack Obama's a big fat sissy who'll cut and run from Iraq. And then all the other kids on the global schoolyard will laugh at us.

Chicago Tribune:

"His policy of unconditional withdrawal, regardless of conditions on the ground, could result in renewed violance,'' said McCain, who, at the end of a long speech, distilled his campaign's argument for the White House -- or more precisely, its argument against Sen. Barack Obama's election as president.


"We're finally winning in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit,'' said McCain, who has vowed that he'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war. "The bottom line, Sen Obama's words, for all their eloquence and passion, don't mean that much,'' McCain said, warning: "We don't need another politician in Washington who puts self interest and expediency ahead of problem solving.''

Not exactly accurate, but that's the way John's been rolling. Obama doesn't advocate ignoring conditions in Iraq. "I do think [withdrawal is] entirely conditions-based," Obama said in July. "It's hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now, or a year from now, or a year and a half from now." But lying about Obama's position is a common practice for the Straight Talker.

Unfortunately for John, a news item came out later in the day that blew a big ol' honkin' hole in his "better than Obama" argument. The Bush administration is going to cut and run from Iraq.

The United States and Iraq are nearing completion of negotiations on a security agreement that would pull American troops out of Iraqi cities by next July and foresees all U.S. combat troops gone from Iraq by 2011, according to two Iraqi officials who are familiar with the negotiations.

"The tactical team is finished and it's a closed deal, but remember that we've been through this before and every time we close a deal it's reopened," said a senior official who's been participating in the talks.

The official said that the deal, once completed, would be perhaps the most restrictive agreement the United States had with a country where it had troops.

That'd be a mere five months longer than Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan. It's hard to express in words how much the Bush administration had hurt McCain's position on the occupation of Iraq. Screwed is nearly the correct word, but only if you pronounce it "ska-roooooooood!" There are at least two syllables worth of screweditude here.

Still, you could argue that this isn't exactly what the Obama camp had proposed -- five months is still a pretty decent time to be off by. But you could only argue that if you ignored Team McCain's idea of a realistic date.

I know you're expecting McCain's hundred/thousand/million year timeline, but that proved really unpopular, so Johnny's not talking about that any more. They've trimmed that back a bit and the new date from the Team that doesn't set dates is 2020 -- twelve freakin' years from now.

Comparatively, Obama was right on the money.

And even 2020 was a flip from a previous position; just mentioning a date for withdrawal would be disastrous. "I don't have a problem with going to the Congress, because I think the issue takes care of itself when we succeed," McCain told George Stephanopoulos in February. "I still say setting a date for withdrawal is chaos, genocide, and we'll be back, because Al Qaeda will then succeed."

Of course, there's some question as to whether Baghdad Johnny even understands who al Qaeda is, so I guess it's no surprise that the McCain non-plan for non-withdrawal would be off by a country mile. Reality never seems to favor McCain's positions.

There's one slim fingerhold that McCain can hold onto to save a little face. It's not a timeline, it's a "time horizon." As far as I can tell, it's the same damned thing. But it's a different phrase, so there's that.

As the Iraq war and reality move away from John McCain, he finds his reasons for even running slipping away. McCain was going to be the brakes on ending the occupation. The cautious, cooler head who would only pull troops out when Iraq was a land of rainbows and unicorns. We would stay in Iraq until Iraq was freakin' perfect. McCain was a head-in-the-clouds dreamer masquerading as a realist.

How McCain is going to co-opt this new position on Iraq is going to be interesting to see. How is he going to adopt Barack Obama's position without it being obvious to everyone on the planet?

That's where Bush has left Team McCain. Adrift and heading 180 degrees off-course from the real world.

They left his "better on Iraq" argument ska-roooooooood...


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1 comment:

Wes(tern) said...

"There's one slim fingerhold that McCain can hold onto to save a little face. It's not a timeline, it's a "time horizon." As far as I can tell, it's the same damned thing. But it's a different phrase, so there's that."

Or, as Jon Stewart put it:

"See, timelines are dangerous. What we need is a horizon. A withdrawal strategy named after something that no matter how long you head towards it, you never quite reach it."

Seems about right.