Saturday, July 10, 2004
Our esteemed colleague Thomas Schaller of the Gadflyer has the most entertaining take we've seen on John McCain -- the only man in the Senate to be brainwashed twice:
But McCain is also being invoked to fight a third battle of triage, namely, as a tourniquet to help stem the declining public perception that Bush is a strong leader on defense and terrorism. In clips from a McCain speech broadcast in a new Bush-Cheney campaign ad, the Senator applauds the President for leading with "moral clarity," adding that Bush "has not wavered, he has not flinched."
Pardon me? McCain cannot believe that Bush has never flinched nor wavered, because very recently the Arizona senator was the single most prominent Republican hammering Bush for not sending to Iraq the number of troops General Eric Shinseki, then the Army Chief of Staff, warned would be necessary. Even if it were not initially apparently that Shinseki was right, the facts on the ground inevitably proved that the general knew exactly what he was talking about . . . .
Despite all the misplaced Vietnam analogies, the Falluja episode reminds us that failure in Iraq is more likely to create another Afghanistan-style terrorist swamp. That we haven't cleaned up the existing Afghanistan is appalling enough; to permit another haven to emerge and potentially spread out from Falluja is inexcusable.
John McCain became a star and moral hero in American politics because he showed the guts to give Americans "straight-talk" – whether that news was good or bad, and whatever the partisan or political consequences.
By allowing himself to be used by the Bush-Cheney campaign, McCain imperils that hard-earned reputation. And you have to wonder if, as he thunders away about the President's moral clarity, the morally unclear neocons aren't just laughing at him behind his back.