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    November 12, 2006

    What's the Frequency, John?

    Posted by: Chris

    Count me as one more disillusioned John McCain fan. He is the REM of politics: I liked his early stuff, but when he tried too hard to be commercial, he lost his soul.

    First McCain kissed up to Jerry Falwell, whom he'd called an "agent of intolerance" back in 2000. He even gave the commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University, despite school policy there to expel students who date within their gender. In 2000, McCain's "Straight Talk Express" slammed George W. Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University, which expelled students for dating outside their race.

    Mccainmeet_1Now in addition to changing his tune, he's turned tone deaf. If today's "Meet the Press" appearance was any indication, he certainly did not get the message from voters last Tuesday. Tim Russert asked, "What did you hear from the voters on Tuesday?" McCain responded by saying voters were upset that Republicans had strayed from promises of fiscal conservatism and become immersed in scandal. Certainly true and the issues where McCain still impresses the most.

    But when McCain got around to mentioning the war, which voters in fact listed as most important, you would think it was denial, and not the Tigris and Euphrates, that run through Baghdad:

    The Iraq war obviously is very frustrating. I know we’re going to talk more about that, but there’s—very frustrating to the American people. But I would submit, if they were all against the Iraq war that you probably would not have seen my friend Joe Lieberman, who I’m sure will talk about it, re-elected.

    Actually, his friend Joe Lieberman was almost un-seated by a first-time candidate, who beat the former veep nominee in the Democratic Party primary, almost solely because of the war. Both McCain and Lieberman were vocal supporters of the war, haven't recounted those positions, and neither offers a realistic exit strategy.

    On Iraq, the "Meet The Press" transcripts almost write themselvesl. Over and over to mind-numbing repitition, Iraq War supporters, and many Democratic critics, have gone on the Sunday morning talk shows to say that "the next 60 days, " or "the next three months," or "the next [fill in the blank]" will be absolutely critical, and will determine the outcome of the war. First it was the Iraqi draft constitution, then the elections, then the formation of a government, then the efforts to build an Iraqi security force. Now, four years later — longer than it took for the U.S. to beat both the Japanese and the Germans in World War II — the violence is escalating and there's no end in sight, or even signs of major progress.

    McCain's answer? Send in more troops. If this man hadn't been a prisoner during the Vietnam War you would think he was unfamiliar with it, as much as he persists in thinking victory at this point is achievable militarily, as opposed to politically. In Iraq as in Vietnam, the people have made clear, through the ongoing insurgence and unwillingness to come together in one government, that they do not want the solution we are imposing on them. And yet the idea of involving Iraq's neighbors to achieve a political solution is, to McCain, almost an afterthought:

    And by the way, I think the Baker Commission is going to recommend a area-wide conference, which is fine with me. But there’s no Rosetta Stone here, there’s no magic formula for success.

    If McCain has been this wrong, for this long, about something so important, than he ought to be disqualifying himself for the higher office he seeks. In 2004, a lot of us held our noses and voted for John Kerry because he was better on social issues and because the Bush team had been so divisive and had run the war so incompentently. But John Kerry had voted wrong on both Iraq Wars and never offered a viable exit strategy, relying instead on a "Bush-lite" approach that was mind-numbing in complexity. McCain is offering more of the same and as if to put an exclamation point on it, backs the John Bolton nomination to the U.N., even though the man personifies the arrogant, divisive Bush foreign policy that has discredited the U.S. with our allies and embolded our enemies.

    Whether McCain shares the famed Bush aversion to introspection or he can't politically question a war and keep conservatives on his side for the GOP primaries, he's playing with fire, not just politics.
    Memo to McCain (and Hillary and others who backed this wrong-headed, poorly run war): There are certain issues — war and peace and civil rights, to name two — that you can't triangulate your way to the White House on, not if we the people and the media are doing our job.



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