John McCain gave a speech today where he said:
We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the “surge” was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops − which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn’t test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn’t matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. […]
Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.
And as our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would choose to lose in Iraq in hopes of winning in Afghanistan. But had his position been adopted, we would have lost both wars.
Reacting to this, Matt Welch (editor of Reason Magazine) says:
What interests me here is McCain’s classic trait of personalizing all policy debates. If you disagree with him, it must be because you are dishonorable, and placing politics ahead of country. He, on the other hand, continues to be motivated by a love of country more pure than Karen Carpenter’s singing voice, at a severe political cost that only a torture-surviving stoic would be willing to bear.
I think that is an accurate depiction of McCain, and one of the reason I sincerely hope he never becomes president. As Welch adds:
I don’t know about Obama (literally), but I can tell you this: The next time we face what McCain hyperbolically described as “a crisis as profound as any in our history,” President McCain will argue − stoically, and with patriotic sadness more than nationalistic anger − that the only thing he hates more than war is anyone daring to suggest that escalating troop levels yet again isn’t the answer to the transcendental crisis du jour. Will such sentiments work politically in 2008? I don’t know. But it’s likely his only hope.
And incidentally, I am a HUGE fan of Karen Carpenter’s voice and the songs she sang.