Yesterday in Rochester, New Hampshire, McCain said:
This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.
It seems that way? Any honest appraisal demands it. Obama's profusion of views on Iraq are dizzying, but they have always had one unifying theme: victory is not an option. Obama opposed The Surge, he opposed troop funding, and he (initially) proposed a hard 16-month timeline for abandoning Iraq regardless of the facts on the ground there and regardless of what the generals recommend (even if genocide raged. No hope or change for you, Iraq). Obama's only sacred principle is that he wants to be president, and the only way this overweening ambition could be satisfied was to run to the left of Hillary Clinton in order to win the Democratic primaries. Thus his purely political Iraq 'strategy' was born.
So John McCain can be forgiven, and even congratulated, for pointing out that Obama's views have nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with Obama's presidential ambitions.
John McCain on the other hand very courageously proposed troop increases in Iraq at a time when abandoning Iraq to the wolves was seen as conventionally wise, and even desirable. McCain truly did risk all of his presidential ambitions on a single long shot, and had The Surge failed he would of course not be within striking distance of winning the presidency. To John McCain however, victory was more important than John McCain. That is quite refreshing.
Joe Klein reacted by fomenting a lot of faux outrage over McCain's statement, knowing that this uppercut to Obama's solar plexus may well be McCain's best soundbite of the campaign:
This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.I wish the left could, just once, generate this type of ire for lightweight candidates who want to destroy America's military morale and ability to follow through on critical foreign policy projects.