It's a long list, but this could very well be the stupidest day of John McCain's campaign, and he has brought the stupid in ways so reminiscent of the national catastrophe of the past eight years. First there was the suggestion that McCain gets his information about offshore drilling from the oil executives, much like Dick Cheney had CEOs set our energy policy for the past eight years. Then there's the schoolyard taunt that Obama would rather lose the war to win the campaign, which caused him to even lose Joe Klein (wonder if Jon Chait wants to rethink that statement that McCain would put an end to the politics of Karl Rove). And finally, there's this.
Kate Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?
McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is as-- such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.
Sean McFarland, in fact, was contacted by Sunni sheikhs in September 2006, months before the surge troops arrived, months before the President even DECIDED on the surge. And everybody knows this - heck, even Kimberly Frickin' Kagan knows this. As Ilan Goldenberg puts it, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq from the candidate who presumes to be a national security expert.
This is not controversial history. It is history that anyone trying out for Commander and Chief must understand when there are 150,000 American troops stationed in Iraq. It is an absolutely essential element to the story of the past two years. YOU CANNOT GET THIS WRONG. Moreover, what is most disturbing is that according to McCain's inaccurate version of history, military force came first and solved all of our problems. If that is the lesson he takes from the Anbar Awakening, I am afraid it is the lesson he will apply to every other crisis he faces including, for example, Iran.
There were even additional factors beyond Anbar that led to the slight drop in violence, relative to 2005, that you're seeing today, including the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and the Sadrist cease-fire. And the surge, of course, didn't work on its own terms, as the political situation is still stalemated, the region is still chaotic, hundreds still die every month, and the endgame is still as far away as it was before the escalation of troops.
(There's a media angle here, too, as CBS apparently deleted this part of the interview from their broadcast. Looks like all that whining about how the media loves Obama is working.)
Here's the point. John McCain has been consistently wrong for six years about Iraq (watch the video). And in the one instance where he wants you to know he got it right, on the surge, he fails to recognize countervailing factors and lies about the timeline of those factors. This is the same obfuscation we've been subjected to for eight years. McCain simply won't talk straight with the public about Iraq, and substitutes his judgment for literally everyone else's. This is rampant neoconservatism.