Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) refuses to hide from what he calls "the elephant in the room," despite knowing full well that the issue he talks most about these days is one that could sink his campaign for the White House.How can you really, you know, with a straight face, still support this miserable, unprovoked, unwinnable and unjustifiable war?
Two-thirds of the American people disagree with McCain's support for the Iraq war and the president's decision to send additional troops to the conflict. As McCain seeks the presidency, it would make sense for him to change the subject -- to health care, to the economy, to social issues, or just about anything else.
But McCain and his top advisers have concluded that to do so would seem evasive and inauthentic for a military man whose life story is built around his experiences in the Vietnam War. They have decided that -- for good or ill -- he has no choice but to plead with voters for their understanding about his decidedly unpopular position on the subject.
"How can you really, you know, with a straight face, walk into a town hall meeting and not talk about the issue that is costing American lives as we speak?" McCain asked reporters gathered around him last week on the 2007 version of the Straight Talk Express, the rolling gimmick that made him famous during his first presidential campaign in 2000. "That's why I have to do what I have to do, foolish as it may be."
"Foolish" is an understatement.
But it's a good one. It describes the man, the war, and the campaign.
"Is it hard and tough? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. Can we win, succeed? I believe we can," he told the crowd. "Can I guarantee you success? No. But I can guarantee the consequences of failure. The consequences of failure are chaos, genocide and, sooner or later, we go back."It's too bad he still hasn't realized that the extremists who are trying to destroy everything we believe in are Christians, not Muslims; Americans, not foreigners; and still in office.
The audience was largely quiet, even somber, as McCain spoke. Even in conservative places such as this, where polls suggest that a majority of Republicans still back the war effort, discussion of Iraq does not produce a reliable applause line. But that does not stop McCain from devoting more than a third of his stump speech to the subject.
"I am convinced that if we lose this conflict and leave, [the terrorists] will follow us home. It's not Iraq they are trying to take," he tells the audience. "Whether it was before, it is now part of this titanic struggle between good and evil, between radical Islamic extremists and their efforts to destroy everything we believe in."
Oh well. I told you "foolish" was an understatement.
Or as Tom Toles sees it:
Please treat this as an open thread while I try to figure out what the next one's going to be about.