July 24, 2008

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I don't know about you, but I'm a little worried that McCain might stroke out before November. He's definitely having a much harder time keeping his infamous temper in check. In fact, yesterday at his appearance in Columbus, Ohio, McCain completely snubbed a Wall Street Journal reporter (watch Lindsey Graham's face as he does it--hilarious!). Today, in Denver, you could sense McCain's rage was just bubbling under the surface. (The Colorado Independent liveblogged the event) I get the distinct impression that he's no longer got his heart in it. It must irk him that Obama drew more than 200K yesterday and according to the press, only 500 showed up to see him in Denver--the smattering of applause sounds more like 50--and even with those diehards, there was dead silence during much of his attacks on Obama.

Like every speech of McCain's lately, his confusing verb tenses claim that we have won and will win, have succeeded and will succeed and yet he's still able to predict "defeat" from Barack Obama's position, despite all this winning and success. It's a stunning psychic ability for McSame as he then says that the troops will come home during "the next president's first term." Isn't that what Obama promised as well? McSame actually told Wolf Blitzer that he thought Obama's 16 months was a pretty good timetable. Confused yet? As Logan points out, McCain says that when he brings the troops home, they're staying home. What does he plan on doing in Afghanistan? Those permanent bases in Iraq? Is this yet another flip-flop?

Even Joe Klein, who has always taken his status as a Beltway Bubble Villager so seriously, is finding McCain unhinged:

This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.[..]

The reality is that neither Barack Obama nor Nouri al-Maliki nor most anybody else believes that the Iraq war can be "lost" at this point. The reality is that no matter who is elected President, we are looking at a residual U.S. force of 30-50,000 by 2011 (a year ahead of the previous schedule). The reality is that McCain should be proud that he helped salvage a disastrous situation by pushing the counterinsurgency plan. It's something to run on. But, at this point, McCain must sense that it's not a winning hand. Obama, the poker player, has drawn to an inside straight: the Iraqis favor his plan over McCain's long-term bases. That must be galling. But it's no excuse to pop off the way McCain did. It was, shockingly, unpresidential.

I went to Iraq many times, and heard all the phony explanations about how we were winning. I knew we were failing. And I told that to an administration that didn't want to hear it.

Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Sen. Obama, detecting the success that he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he'd always predicted it. There have been almost no sectarian killings in Baghdad for more than 13 weeks. American casualties are at the lowest levels recorded in this war. The Iraqi Army is stronger and fighting harder. The Iraqi government has met most of the benchmarks for political progress we demanded of them. And the nation's largest Sunni party recently rejoined the government. In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat but on the road to victory.

Sen. Obama said just this week that even knowing what he knows today that he would still-still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chose failure. I cannot conceive a Commander-in-Chief making that choice. My friends, a new hope is rising in Iraq today. Across the country, Iraqis are preparing for upcoming provincial elections and security has improved enough to permit the Iraqi government to begin seriously providing services and opportunities to the Iraqi people. This progress is encouraging but it is reversible. If we heed those who have always counseled defeat, when they now argue to risk our fragile gains and withdraw from Iraq, according to a politically expedient timetable, rather than the advice from the commanders who so brilliantly led this stunning turnaround in our situation in Iraq. I said the surge has succeeded and it has. That's why the additional surge brigades are almost all home. I said we can win, and we will. I'm confident we will be able to reduce our forces in Iraq next year and our forces will be out of regular combat operations and dramatically reduced in number during the term of the next President of the United States. I don't know....I think you know who I'm referring to.
We fought the worst battles, survived the toughest threats and the hardest part of this war is behind us. But it's not over yet. And we've come too far, we've sacrificed too much, to risk everything we've gained and all we could yet gain because the politics of the hour make defeat the more convenient position. Because of the choice we made and all the surge has accomplished, the time will soon come, when our troops can come home. But we face another choice today: we can withdraw when we have secured the peace and the gains we have sacrificed so much to achieve or save or we can follow Sen. Obama's unconditional withdrawal and risk losing the peace, even if that results in spreading violence and a third Iraqi war. Sen. Obama has suggested he would consider sending troops back if that happened. When I bring them home in victory and with honor, they are staying home.

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