This Type of Attack Is Unnecessary


John McCain is coming under attack for another comment today when he said it is, “not too important” when American troops can come home from Iraq (video above). It doesn’t take much imagination to see the ways in which McCain can be attacked when only this fragment of what he said is repeated.

McCain is still wrong, but he sounds far less evil and out of touch when the full statement is read. I’ll take the text from a blog defending McCain:

Q: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

McCAIN: “No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq, Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw. General [David] Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are.

“But the key to it is that we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way. That way, they will be safe, and serve our country and come home with honor and victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama’s proposal would have done. I’m proud of them. And they’re doing a great job. And we are succeeding and it’s fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn’t realize that.”

Some Democrats are criticizing McCain based upon his entire statement and I certainly agree with that. Unfortunately others are sticking to the limited quote from the first paragraph of this post. As Marc Ambinder writes:

The context makes it clear that McCain is reiterating his position that the presence of troops isn’t the issue; instead, it’s the casualties they receive. The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack.

McCain is wrong overall in his views on the Iraq war. He is wrong in not understanding that our very presence there as an occupying foreign power drives much of the conflict. It is important when our troops return as getting them out of there will most likely be necessary for any regional political settlement, with a military settlement unlikely to be achieved.

I’m all for Democrats criticizing McCain for the fundamental errors in his foreign policy views. I do not like to see him attacked based upon a portion of a statement taken out of context any more than I like the frequency with which Republicans use this tactic. I think that many Democrats are tired of losing to Republicans and see this as justification for imitating their tactics, but resorting to such such tactics is still wrong.

There are real differences between Barack Obama and John McCain. I hope we can see a campaign where each side concentrates on the real differences. When one side desires to contrast their views with the other, it is far more meaningful to do so based upon representative quotations which best represent the views of the opponent, not based upon searching for which comments can do the most harm when taken out of context.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    The Wizard, fkap says:

    This is really an excellent and extremely fair analysis. 

    I’m tired of “gotcha” politics replacing real in depth discussion and analysis of the issues.  Olbermann’s rants might sound good, but rarely advance any real understanding of the issues.

    Thanks for your continued efforts to illuminate and educate.

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