early and often

He May Not Always Be Accurate, But at Least McCain Is Talking About Iraq

Photo: Newscom

Though the main event in the center ring is the ongoing Democratic primary, recent events and statements by John McCain have invited some fresh scrutiny of his understanding of the war in Iraq. At a stop in Jordan last week, McCain made the claim that Shiite Iranians were training the Sunni Al Qaeda in Iraq. His friend and traveling companion, Joe Lieberman, whispered to McCain, who quickly corrected his statement — but not quickly enough to stop the tidal wave of questioning over the gaffe. Then two major milestones came within days of each other: the fifth anniversary of the invasion and the American casualty count hitting the 4,000 mark. Thus the focus on the war has been renewed (sadly, it requires these special occasions to hold our attention), and discussion has again turned to the duration of our commitment in Iraq, which according to McCain could be a long, long time. On the other hand, McCain may see eye to eye with Osama bin Laden on at least one issue.

• Glenn Greenwald is incensed that the media is deliberately giving McCain a free pass on the Iran–Al Qaeda remark because they consider him an expert on national security. [Salon]

• Kevin Drum thinks McCain gets a “credibility pass” on not just foreign policy but also fiscal policy, lobbyists, campaign finance, and John Hagee, and also wonders where all this credibility is coming from. [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Arianna Huffington believes the “gaffe” was no gaffe at all, but a lack of understanding of foreign policy, one which would not have been given a free pass if it was uttered by a Democrat. [HuffPo]

• Michael Goldfarb responds to Huffington, claiming she showed her own ignorance when she called it “ludicrous” for McCain to claim Syria was training Al Qaeda. [The Blog/Weekly Standard]

• David Paul Kuhn reports that Democrats are already honing in on McCain’s remark that he wouldn’t mind if we were in Iraq for 100 years, and that the party plans to use the quote to paint McCain as a war hawk. [Politico]

• Joe Klein believes the real “horror” of McCain’s statements is in his belief that an occupation of Iraq can be anything like our occupations of Japan, Korea, and Germany — all ethnically homogeneous and non-Islamic countries. [Swampland/Time]

• Adam Aigner-Treworgy relays what he suggests may be another juicy sound bite for the Democrats to use against McCain: “General Petraeus and I and Osama bin Laden are in agreement,” McCain said, referring to the contention that Iraq is the central battleground for Al Qaeda. [Hotline/National Journal]

• Matthew Yglesias doesn’t doubt that bin Laden would like to see an “epic struggle” in Iraq but wonders why McCain thinks the right response is to accede to his wishes. [Atlantic]—Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

He May Not Always Be Accurate, But at Least McCain Is Talking About Iraq