McCain: The Straight Talk Express He Is No Longer

February 1, 2007 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Iraq, McCain, Military | 1 Comment

McCain portrayed himself as the straight-talk express in the 2000 election. Now, well, he’s certainly not that anymore. On the Hill today, he castigated General Casey for Iraq getting worse these past two and a half years. Problem for McCain is that during these past two and a half years, he’s been saying things have been going well. As Greg Sargent shows:

Yep, more contradictions and more dissembling on escalation from John McCain. Today McCain grilled General George Casey at a Senate committee hearing, telling him that under his command things had gotten much worse in Iraq:

McCain, R-Ariz., criticized Casey for what he called misjudgments about the prospects for progress toward stabilizing Iraq during his tenure. McCain said he has “strong reservations” about Casey’s nomination to become Army chief of staff.

“While I don’t in any way question your honor, your patriotism or your service to our country, I do question some of the decisions, the judgments you’ve made over the past two and a half years,” McCain, top Republican on the committee, told Casey. “During that time things have gotten markedly and progressively worse.”

Let’s review: In order to disparage and heap blame upon General Casey — who’s McCain’s number one foil and scapegoat because Casey has questioned the wisdom of McCain’s escalation plan — the good Senator claimed that during the “past two and a half years” of Casey’s tenure, “things have gotten markedly and progressively worse.”

Wouldn’t you know it, but during that same period — that is, before the midterm elections, and before his Presidential campaign forced him get more serious about blaming the Iraq debacle on pre-escalation troop levels — he repeatedly suggested something quite different:

CNN, March 30, 2006:

[WOLF] BLITZER: You just came back from Iraq, Senator. Glad you’re back safe and sound from there. Your friend and colleague, Senator Chuck Hagel said the other day — and he’s always outspoken, Republican from Nebraska, “I don’t think,” he said, “Iraq’s going to get better. I think it will get worse.” You were just there. What do you think?

MCCAIN: May I say that I have great respect and appreciation for Chuck Hagel, who is one of the smartest men in the Senate. I think things are getting better. I think they are progressing. I think that the Iraqi military is improving. I think the Iraqi police training is improving, but much more slowly.

More examples after the jump.

CNN, March 2, 2005 (via Nexis):

MCCAIN: My sense is that General Abizaid, who is one of our finest military leaders, is correct, but I think we have to emphasize that it’s a long, hard, difficult struggle. You got a combination of Baathist, criminals, people from outside Iraq, and other disgruntled Sunnis that are going to make life hell for a period of time. But we are showing some progress. Judy, I think the dynamic was changed from insurgents versus U.S. forces to insurgents versus Iraqi government. We win under the latter scenario, but it’s going to be long, hard and tough.

[JUDY] WOODRUFF: How do you persuade the American people of that, though? Because you see these terrible incidents day after day and yet the officials and you are saying things are getting better?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I would say that the security that we had to be under on this last trip was greater than the first trip that I made to Iraq. I think we can tell the American people that the Iraqi military and police are being trained and they are gradually taking over more of these responsibilities. That the elected government, which was uplifting to all Iraqi people, is reaching out to Sunnis to bring them into the government. And I am optimistic over time.

WOODRUFF: Somebody who was with you in Iraq, Senator Russ Feingold, he came back and said he’s very concerned about whether the situation is moving in the right direction. He said it’s very much in doubt. How could the two of you have different views?

MCCAIN: Well, we’re very close friends, as you know. But I believe that Russ and I just had some different impressions. But I also visited with many of our troops. They are excellent, their morale is good. They believe that they’re making progress. As I mentioned, General Abizaid, the marines in Falluja we met with, are convinced that they’re making progress there. [Editor’s note: Recall that McCain said above that his sense was that Abizaid was “correct.”]

What’s happened John?

1 Comment »

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  1. It’s going to be fun to watch all of the election-year repositioning coming from all sides. You can bet that it’s only going to get worse as we have more entrants.


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