John McCain's Latest "I Didn't Say What I Said" Moment
by Todd Beeton, Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 07:21:59 AM EDT
As we all know, in defense of his having said we should be in Iraq for 100 years, John McCain insists that what he meant was "it's not how long we're in Iraq that matters but rather whether or not there are casualties." Well, in his haste to push this talking point again, on The Today Show this morning, when asked "Do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq," John McCain blurted out "No, but that's not too important." Not too important, Senator, really? I think that says it all.
Can't wait for Barack Obama to jump on this and then for John McCain try to defend it. Wonder which sad defense he's going to resort to this time. The ole "never said it" trick, despite the fact that it's on video for everyone to see, or perhaps the now over-used "out of context" gambit, which is getting more and more difficult for him to employ with any credibility since, really, all we're doing is repeating his words verbatim back to him.
As I write this, I see the McCain campaign has in fact responded to TPM:
Sen. McCain has consistently opposed a timeline for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. And our friends on the opposite side of the aisle have a long history of attempting to twist Sen. McCain's words on Iraq. The fact that Sen. McCain opposes a timeline for withdrawal and is principally concerned about the safety of American troops and the security of Iraq is pretty much "dog bites man."
So, in other words, as Greg Sargent notes:
...they are arguing that he didn't say that the act of bringing the troops home is not too important.
Rather, they say, McCain merely meant that the timing of when they come home is not too important.
OK, who had "out of context"?
Greg Sargent thinks the McCain campaign has a fair point. Harry Reid on the other hand:
"McCain's statement today that withdrawing troops doesn't matter is a crystal clear indicator that he just doesn't get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course -- Osama bin Laden is freely plotting attacks, our efforts in Afghanistan are undermanned, and our military readiness has been dangerously diminished. We need a smart change in strategy to make America more secure, not a commitment to indefinitely keep our troops in an intractable civil war."
I understand Barack Obama will be holding a press conference to address McCain's statements shortly.
Update [2008-6-11 12:55:35 by Todd Beeton]:On an Obama campaign conference call with reporters this morning, John Kerry and Obama aide Susan Rice were dispatched to take down McCain's comments. From TPM:
Speaking of military families, Kerry said: "To them it's the most important thing in the world when they come home."
Kerry also cast the comments as proof that McCain is befuddled about the situation our military finds itself in. "Our generals have made it crystal clear that we cannot sustain our forces in Iraq at this level," he said.
"Senator McCain, it is important when they come home," Kerry concluded. "It is important when we can revitalize our military."
More from Slinkerwink:
"It is unbelievably out of touch and inconsistent with the needs of Americans and particularly the families of troops who are over there. To them its the most important thing in the world when they come home," he said. "Its a policy for staying in Iraq."
Kerry and Obama aide Susan Rice also both said McCain is "confused" -- a line some in McCain's camp will surely take as a shot at the candidate's age.
"He confuses who Iran is training, he confuses what the makeup of Al Qaeda is, he confuses the history going back to 682 of what has happened to Sunni and Shia," Kerry said.
Rice cited a "pattern of confusing the basic facts and reality that pertain to Iraq."
John McCain: befuddled and confused.