You turn the news on and there are currently two stories about the campaign:
1. Barack Obama speaking in front of 200,000 in Europe and being treated like a President.
2. John McCain's campaign's inability to match anything Obama is saying or doing.
McCain's current rhetoric is repeatedly:
"Obama was wrong on the surge. He therefore failed. He needs to admit this. Because he was a failure about the surge he will lead this country to failure."
Let's see. When the surge was announced I don't remember anyone in Congress lining up behind it with anything other than a "This might not work, but it might. We'll never know unless we try."
Republican columnist David Brooks sums this up in a column a few weeks ago:
"When President Bush consulted his own generals, the story was much the same. Almost every top general, including Abizaid, Schoomaker and Casey, was against the surge. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was against it, according to recent reports. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called for a smaller U.S. presence, not a bigger one."
So, why isn't McCain also blasting the generals and Condi Rice for also being "wrong"?
Two weeks ago, Barack Obama wrote an op-ed for the NY Times where he said:
"In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness. But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted...
...the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.
But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.
Despite other disagreements and dislikes I have with Obama, his statements above are very reasonable.
Thomas Friedman (who was right about the whole war so far) concurs with me in his column yesterday where he encourages McCain to "wake up and smell the Arabic coffee."
"McCain was right about the surge. It has helped to stabilize Iraq and create a better chance there for political reconciliation. But Iraq has always been a story full of surprises. And one of the most important political surprises is how quickly the surge has made Iraq safe for Barack Obama’s foreign policy — and for the election policy of the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki...
U.S. officials in Iraq tell me that the success of the Sunni tribes in beating back Al Qaeda in their regions and the success of the mainstream Shiites in beating back Moktada al-Sadr’s militia and other pro-Iranian elements in Baghdad and Basra has Iraqis looking at themselves differently and therefore at America’s presence in Iraq differently.
More and more mainstream Iraqi politicians believe they are able to run their own affairs, and fewer and fewer mainstream Americans believe we are able to devote another presidency to Iraq."
So, Obama was wrong that the surge wouldn't work. WHO CARES??? Everyone else was wrong, too. The point is that now Iraq is stabilizing, Iraqis are wanting us out, Americans in Iraq are saying we can leave, and Al-Maliki publicly applauded Obamas 16-month timetable. That's not failure.
If McCain hopes to win on that one single issue, then he won't. He also credits President Bush with the recent fall in oil prices. *sigh*