Makes for some mighty fine grandstanding, doesn't it? I'm intrigued, frankly, by this bit of campaign slight of hand by the McCain camp. Against a background of Memorial Day weekend sniping over McCain voting against the New GI Bill sponsored by Senator James Webb, McCain was for a while on the defensive. After all, he voted against expanded public education for our veterans of the War in Iraq, a war to which Senator McCain wants to send more and more soldiers. His defense was completely convoluted and hard to represent in simple language, that McCain was calling for education benefits and the like to be pegged to time served. Basically he was saying he wants career soldiers, and he thinks if soldiers get the benefits after only a three year commitment they'll quit. McCain simply couldn't get that message across cogently, so he switched subjects, claiming that Barack Obama, because he hasn't toured sunny Iraq in a while, is in need of remediation on the subject, and John McCain claims to be just the guy to school Obama. The Associated Press gives us the scenario:
Republican John McCain on Monday sharply criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for not having been to Iraq since 2006, and said they should visit the war zone together.
"Look at what happened in the last two years since Senator Obama visited and declared the war lost," the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting told The Associated Press in an interview, noting that the Illinois senator's last trip to Iraq came before the military buildup that is credited with curbing violence.
"He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time," the Arizona senator added. "If there was any other issue before the American people, and you hadn't had anything to do with it in a couple of years, I think the American people would judge that very harshly."
. . .
Over the weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of McCain's top surrogates, laid the groundwork for McCain's criticism in a television interview in which he noted Obama's absence from Iraq and floated the idea that Obama and McCain should go together to be briefed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Asked whether he'd be willing to take such a trip, McCain told the AP: "Sure. It would be fine."
"I go back every few months because things are changing in Iraq," he said. McCain questioned whether Obama has ever been briefed by Petraeus. "I would also seize that opportunity to educate Senator Obama along the way."
I'm sure everyone this morning is going to focus on McCain's comments trying to define Barack Obama as a "surrenderer," while he, McCain, is the big strong guy who will WIN, no matter how many hundreds of years it takes. McCain's language is losing touch with reality when he talks about Iraq, and it is time to call him on it, certainly. But I'll leave that for other commenters.
There's an image here that I'd love to see on the news, of John McCain, representative of the old guard, directing a guided tour of the young and charismatic Barack Obama. I guarantee that image will come off to the American public as a magnanimous gesture by Mr. Obama to accept the offer, thus appeasing the out-of-touch, Obama. It would come across as a changing of the guard, highlighting the differences between McCain and Obama in very stark contrast. And here's where it gets good. You just know such a tour would involve appearing in front of the troops, and I guarantee there would be soldiers all over Iraq clamoring for tickets to see Obama. Oh, they would still cheer for McCain, but you'd see, live on every news service, far louder cheers for Obama.
McCain and his people, including the 527 spokesperson Lindsey Graham, are suggesting this little friendly jaunt to Iraq, with John McCain as tour guide for Barack Obama, but they are clueless if they think a real trip would do them anything but a four point downturn in the polls. As it stands, they get to posture some more. And Obama's people are right in their response:
Obama spokesman Bill Burton declined to respond directly to McCain, saying only: "Senator Obama thinks Memorial Day is a day to honor our nation's veterans, not a day for political posturing."
Stay tuned for more McCain posturing tomorrow, when he tap dances on the Tomb of the Unknowns.