McCain, Not Maliki, Knows 'What Iraqis Want'

John Amato: McCain was trying to filibuster Meredith Vieira throughout the segment, but she hung in there pretty good. He tried to say that since he w

John Amato: McCain was trying to filibuster Meredith Vieira throughout the segment, but she hung in there pretty good. He tried to say that since he wasn't in charge of all the Senate Armed Services committee hearings (6) he missed on Afghanistan---it didn't count because he knows better and he went there and I'm right and you're wrong. And of course he knows everything about the economy even though he said to America that the economy is not his bag, man---because he's John McCain. She brought up Phil Gramm's "American Whiner," remark and he said he's for off shore drilling...

Steve Benen: Given reality, the fact that the Maliki government wants a U.S. withdrawal timetable and has endorsed Barack Obama’s Iraq policy by name would seem to be bad news for John McCain and his presidential campaign. But the presumptive Republican nominee has a trump card to get himself out of inconvenient jams like these: “I’m John McCain.”

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Take this morning’s appearance on NBC’s “Today” show, for example.

Got that? The prime minister of Iraq and the Iraqi people may seem to want U.S. troops out of their country, but John McCain has been to Iraq and he “knows what they want.”

Jason Zengerle noted, “So, basically, the new McCain position on withdrawal seems to be: we shouldn’t listen to what the Iraqi government says it wants, we should listen to what McCain says it wants.”

Keep in mind, of course, McCain was asked this question before — in 2004.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, McCain was asked what he would do if a “sovereign Iraqi government asks us to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there?” McCain’s response was unambiguous: “Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it’s obvious that we would have to leave because — if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we’ve been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don’t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.”


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In the bigger picture, though, the “I’m John McCain” phenomenon is surprisingly common.

In the same interview this morning, Vieira asked McCain about his attacks on Obama’s lack of committee hearings, and noted that McCain didn’t show up for any hearings on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan in the past two years. McCain’s response? “I know the issues extremely well,” McCain said.

In other words, he’s John McCain — and he doesn’t need committee hearings.

For that matter, a few days ago, the NYT had an interesting piece about Barack Obama’s foreign policy apparatus, which consists of a team of 300 or so experts, acting as something like a mini-State Department. The McCain campaign’s response? “John doesn’t need daily talking points” from a team of experts.

And these are just from the past few days. It’s the height of arrogance — McCain doesn’t need the opinions of the Iraqi prime minister, because he’s John McCain. He doesn’t need committee hearings on Afghanistan, because he’s John McCain. He doesn’t need a campaign foreign policy apparatus, because he’s John McCain.

Now, if he could actually demonstrate that he knew what he was talking about, and could talk about his foreign policy vision without sounding like an uninformed child, then maybe the “I’m John McCain” phenomenon would merely be an annoying personality trait.

But therein lies the point. McCain’s trump card — don’t question him, he knows what he’s talking about — is contradicted by the fact that he seems to be utterly and embarrassingly clueless.

I can’t help but wonder what the campaign would be like if the media called him on it.

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