Senator John McCain is accustomed to staking out a lonely piece of ground, but on Iraq he is virtually an army of one. Nearly alone among major political figures in calling for an increase in American forces in Iraq, Mr. McCain is either taking a principled stand or a huge political gamble. Or both.
One: so what do you suppose it would take to eradicate--hell, to dent--the cherished notion of "Maverick" McCain? He's got an 83% lifetime rating from the ACU. Remind me: what, exactly, was the last limb he crawled out onto? Campaign finance reform? Pfui. Might have made him unpopular with some of the guys in the cloakroom. Talking political financial reform is not exactly going to have you ducking rotten vegetables on the campaign trail. Where, besides in the slack-jawed admiration of PR verities in the Times coverage, is it that John McCain is a maverick?
Two: principled stand or huge political gamble, or both? Oddly enough, we can answer that, provided we're willing to do a little reporting. The answer is: neither. It's a calculated bit of pandering to the GOP base that began about a year and a half ago with his call for an additional 10,000 troops, now bumped to 20,000. Neither number would change things in Iraq, but both have the benefit of being small enough that McCain can trot the numbers out while insisting no conscription program would be needed to achieve them. 10-20,000 troops sound like a drop in the bucket to a public which hasn't been paying attention and hasn't had anyone explain to it that those troops are simply not there, that we have worn out the Army's manpower and matériel equations. The public can be excused for not understanding that. New York Times political reporters, not so much. Second-ranking majority members on the Senate Armed Services Committee? Lying. See how easy that was?
The alternative, he said, is humiliation for the United States and disaster for Iraq.
“We’re paying a price for the failure of our policy in the past,” Mr. McCain said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC, “and the question, then, before the American people is, are we ready to quit? And I believe the consequences of failure are chaos in the region, which will spread.”
Oh, jeez, I hadn't thought of that. There might be chaos in the region.
So who got us there, if not John McCain? Who thought nothing about the consequences of failure beforehand?
Let's ask the question the Timesmen are too proper to ask, namely: Th' fuck? Are we supposed to believe that the Republican leadership, its most senior and respected military affairs experts, never even considered the possibility things might go other than perfectly? It's one thing to claim, however accurately, that you and the whole world believed Saddam Hussein possessed a powerful Note Somewhere on Weapons of Mass Destruction Program Event Planning Occurance. It's another to suggest that justified losing your fucking mind. How could it have not occurred to you that Americans would still be in harm's way four years later, no matter how well things went? How could it escape your field of vision that the population, and the troops, would beign to tire of losing people for longer than it took to win World War II?
Talk about humiliating.
Y'know, Senator, it's not like we just stepped off the path for one second and found ourselves in a morass. There were signs all along the way, beginning with the screw-up with Turkey before the war--avoidable, reversible, and the product of hubris alone. There was the week or more the Brits took to secure Basra, the supposed center of anti-Baathist sentiment. They were supposed to be fighting off truckloads of flowers, not an ad hoc militia, remember? Then the looting and chaos. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was going on, and it shouldn't have taken the five or six months before we started losing two or three soldiers a day before the straight-shootin' experts called for correction, certainly not until after the 2004 election was over. All you had to do was stand up on one of your weekly co-hosting gigs on Meet the Press and explained that we needed more troops, and things would have changed. But then, so too would have public perception changed. This is part of the problem, and the chaos, and the humiliation: that so many public people did nothing except look out for their own sinecures, that we dove into this thing with no debate, led by a man with no discernable abilities, cheered by a Free Press which abandoned its responsibilities as ratings anathema. We don't need a rerun of your military acumen, Senator, thanks for asking. But you are in a unique position to help explain why.
You picked the wrong horse, Johnny boy. You hopped into that beaker of warm bathwater, and now you're a boiled frog. (The irony, Mr. Maverick, is that if there's anything left that'll get you that Presidential nomination it's your ability to raise money.) Now, for godssakes, for the sake of what's left of decency and honesty and the young men and women who serve their country, give this bullshit, calculating "program" of yours up before it screws up more lives, reclaim your manhood and whatever you can find of your integrity, and get th' fuck outta the way.