John McCain's Latest "I Didn't Say What I Said" Moment

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 it’s the most important thing in the world when they come home," he said. "It’s 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.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, John McCain (all tags)



Re: John McCain's Latest

Barack won't back down from McSame's BS.  Love the quick response!

by skywaker9 2008-06-11 07:26AM | 0 recs
If It's This Easy Now,

can you imagine how much fun it's gonna be to watch McLame's debating performances demolished this Fall? I can hardly wait to hear the blissful ignorance he has yet to impart upon us all!!!

by RNinNC 2008-06-11 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: If It's This Easy Now,

Yes, I can. :) But Obama will have to participate in some of the less formal formats that allow for McCain to speak with time to clarify, or at least leave a more detailed impression of his position. In that way, there will be few of the gotcha moments some are counting on.

by Pottery 2008-06-11 11:22AM | 0 recs

what McCain is saying is basically

"as long as they aren't being killed, who cares when they come home could be 10 years 20 years heck maybe 100 years, its not important when you see your loved ones again, as long as I don't get them killed by keeping them in Iraq"

anyone disagree with me on this? because thats how I read it

by TruthMatters 2008-06-11 07:35AM | 0 recs

He's said as much before. He basically doesn't give a damn about things in Iraq as long as they don't make the news. Another golfing president for the head-in-the-sand crowd.

by Firewall 2008-06-11 07:39AM | 0 recs
Here is the major flaw

to a certain extent, he is right.  we have troop presence in many countries.  But, how many troops - THAT is the key.

If we had the same number of troops in Iraq that we have in Korea, wouldn't be that big of a deal obviously.  Except, we're not anywhere close to that.  Such a simplistic viewpoint - troop levels for peace time occupation are no where near the levels required for combat.  

Truth is, you can't ever compare Germany or Korea to Iraq.  There is no chance that we ever have peace in Iraq such that people will stop attacking American troops.  Seems like there will always be insurgents or at least terrorists attacking Americans.  They aren't going to stop.  They aren't going to sign peace agreements.  McCain claims that American casualties will subsist.  Yeah, well unless it gets below one or two a year, count me out.  How many American casualties were there in Korea last year?

by ab03 2008-06-11 07:45AM | 0 recs
The real flaw

Is trying to compare Iraq to Germany or Japan.  We stayed in those countries specifically to hem in the USSR.    Iran does not even start to qualify as a great of a threat as the USSR was.

Even staying in South Korea was a much to hem in China as it was to protect the South against aggression by the North.

I am just astounded that so many so-called conservatives still fail to see this as what it truly is, a war for oil.

by monkeyga 2008-06-11 09:03AM | 0 recs

My understanding as well.

by Pottery 2008-06-11 11:24AM | 0 recs

So we get to be the Empire and add an unwilling country to our endless occupation...there's a winner.

by Sychotic1 2008-06-11 07:42AM | 0 recs
Empire = Death

Holding on to overreaching Empires is what has destroyed basically every great society.  It doesn't matter if it was the Romans, the Persians or even Great Britain.

Look what happened to Britain during the 20th century.  Look at how their standards of living kept falling compared to other societies.  It has only been since they gave up all their Empire that they have begun to recover.

Since the fall of the USSR the US began to greatly scale back its overseas committments, which was a major factor in the growth in the 1990s.  As long as we stay in Iraq, we are never going to get our economy back on its feet.

by monkeyga 2008-06-11 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: John McCain's Latest

I think we are all going to enjoy the extent to which John McCain is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

by oliver cromwell 2008-06-11 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: John McCain's Latest

Just saw McLame at a town hall meeting whining about his press coverage. I'm sure it inspired everyone there.

by Freespeechzone 2008-06-11 07:46AM | 0 recs
Poor John McCain

McCain's mouth just keeps ruining it for him

by lifeisgood1186 2008-06-11 07:49AM | 0 recs
McCain is evil

I don't understand why more people don't get this fact.

He supported this was, and continues to support the war, not because of any threat to America, but because he wants to build Empire.

America stayed in Germany and Japan, not to keep those countries from attacking us again, but to keep the Soviet Union from taking over those countries.   Once the USSR fell apart, US bases shut down dramatically overseas.  Iran is not the USSR and does not require the same type of containment.  

If anyone still actually believes that this war and occupation of Iraq is not about control of Middle-Eastern oil, they really need to get their heads out of the sand.

by monkeyga 2008-06-11 08:46AM | 0 recs
This Statement ALONE...

should put pause on anyone with a son who is eligible to go to war.  How are we going to continue with a war that we will NEVER WIN???  And to have a candidate for POTUS to say bringing them home is not important?  I know many say age is nothing but a number, but the older you get the less SHARP you do become.  Just sayin....

by Edna Howard 2008-06-11 09:15AM | 0 recs
More GOP woes

Did you see this information?

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who is heading Senate Republicans' re-election effort, recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it would be "a great night" if his party can hold Democratic pickups in the Senate to three or four seats in November.

Since when did only losing 3-4 Senate seats become a good night.    OK, I do realize that the GOP picked up Senate seats in 2002 that they should not have.  But still, to refer to losing only 3-4 as Great shows how bad shape that they are really in.

I have also read that some think the Democrats will pick up as many as 20 seats in the House.   That is amazing as it puts the Democratic numbers back up to pre-1994 days.  And it is doing this without the old Solid South (Dixiecrat) type Democrats

by monkeyga 2008-06-11 09:23AM | 0 recs
I Didn't Say What I Meant to Say

He should have someone vet his language. If he had said, "That's not as important as the casualties. If casualties are low . . . We have troops stationed in this place, that place, etc."

We're making moles hills out of, uhm, very little. That was fairly clear for JMcCain.

by Pottery 2008-06-11 11:17AM | 0 recs


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