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McCain.

Good man screwed by scoundrels.

John McCain, who was denied the presidency six years ago in part because of racist slanders from Mr. Bush's team of hatchetmen, has tied his 2008 run to Mr. Bush's incompetent management of the Iraq War.

Sometimes McCain lives up to his reputation for integrity and for blurting out the truth:

Although McCain had once lavished praise on the vice president, he said in an interview in his Senate office: "The president listened too much to the Vice President . . . Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense."

McCain added: "Rumsfeld will go down in history, along with McNamara, as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history." Donald Rumsfeld served as President Bush's secretary of defense from January 2001 to December 2006. Robert McNamara was Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War.
We've evolved categories of war critics. The categories range from Pacifist Critics (all war is wrong,) to Mission Impossible Critics (this was doomed by definition, a fool's errand,) to Big Footprint Critics (if you're going to do it, do it right,) and many gradations in between.

Big Footprint Critics believe it was never going to be easy so we had to go in big or stay home. More to the point, we (I'll slip myself into this category along with Mr. McCain,) believe even if it was going to be easy you act on the assumption it's going to be hard. Never go with "just enough." Life is unpredictable: overprepare.

McCain decisively makes a point I've tried to make repeatedly:

Without naming names, McCain said, "It is ironic that many of my colleagues who are now wavering were those who were down the line in support (of the war) and would come back from Iraq saying that everything is fine and the troops are wonderful and it's the media (that is the problem). And I came back from my first trip saying, 'You better get more boots on the ground! You better change this.' Now I am hung with it. It's fascinating!"
Silence is not patriotism. People who saw clearly that the war was a mess, and said so, were helping. Those who shushed or even attacked dissenters actively damaged our prospects for victory.

The Pacifist Critics are well-meaning nitwits. The Mission Impossible Critics may have been right, I don't know. But the Big Footprint Critics were undeniably more right than the defenders of Stay The Course. We should at least have tried. Yes, even if it reqquired Mr. Bush to admit he'd screwed up. We should have tried to get it right.

McCain said in the interview that the success of the American mission in Iraq "will be directly related to the ability of the Iraqi military to take up responsibilities. Their record is terrible." Also, he said, "There is still enormous bureaucratic resistance (to the troop surge) in the Pentagon, and it bothers me a great deal. The bureaucrats in the military are saying this is a terrible strain on the (National) Guard and the active duty forces, and it is. There is only one thing worse than an over-stressed military, and that's a defeated military. And we are on the verge of that."

McCain said that even the planned insertion of 21,500 new U.S. troops into Iraq, which he supports, may not succeed. "I don't know if this is enough troops or not," McCain said. "I can't guarantee success by doing this."
The army is strained because for four years the very people who should have been allies of the Big Footprinters were enforcing a conservative political correctness. It's the Right that should have seen we needed more men in the army, and more men in Iraq. But they put loyalty to Mr. Bush, reflexive media-bashing, and antipathy toward any and all dissenters, ahead of their reponsibility to help secure victory.

The casualties so far? The dead and wounded of course. The dead and wounded still to come, both GI's and civilians. But also, American credibility, a degree of American power . . . and very likely the political career of John McCain.

"Life isn't fair, as Jack Kennedy said," McCain added with his typical mordancy.

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  1. Blogger cakreiz Says:

    I still admire and like McCain a lot, though the surge is probably too little, too late. Unlike most professional pols, he's always a short step away from speaking his mind. Ya gotta like that.

    And I'm glad you got together with Schuler. Very cool.

  2. Blogger amba Says:

    This is why I just can't oppose it, despite the fear that it is too little too late. I'm appalled by the easy defeatism -- so much of it complacent, opportunistic, smug and/or spiteful. A lot of it's pandering to where the public is right now. And I really do think where the public is right now is the fault of the Bush administration. So, yes, it's hard to ask people to support the action of an administration that has screwed up so badly. But look past the administration and see the country, and the military. And see David Petraeus, who wrote the counterinsurgency manual.

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