Monday, July 28, 2008

"Straight" Talk Express

It seems like there was a point not that long ago when the phrase "Straight Talk Express" wasn't necessarily being used ironically. Now it's like you can hear the quotation marks around it whenever you hear the phrase. In a campaign marked by refinined positions and flip flops, it's getting harder and harder to know exactly what's going on with John McCain's position on Iraq.

First, the folks at Talking Points Memo have put together a rather excellent timeline detailing McCain's fairly regular changes of mind as to whether or not President Bush was doing a good job in Iraq. In case you didn't click the link, just know that it's tough to keep track of what stand Mr. Straight Talk had when.

Second, you could make it a full time job just trying to figure out what McCain is saying is wrong with Obama's plan for withdrawing troops from Iraq. First, Obama was wrong and naive. Then he was adopting McCain's plan. Then he would rather lose the war than lose the election. Then the timeline that Prime Minister Maliki laid out (by saying that Obama's timeline was good) is a pretty good timeline for withdrawal because it's based on conditions on the ground but that Obama's timeline isn't good because it's not based on conditions on the ground. And then McCain accuses Obama of shifting positions on the war. Keep in mind, this very complicated and often contradictory series of remarks all come in response to Obama's essentially unchanged position that we should withdraw the troops from Iraq in 16 months, contingent upon things not falling apart in the country.


To top this all off, McCain - to the best of my knowledge - hasn't offered any sort of plan for getting us out of Iraq. He says that we need to insure victory, but I guess I'm still not clear on how he defines that very nebulous word. As far as we know, McCain is still happy to have us in Iraq for the next 100 years. He can shift and attack Obama all he wants, but it seems like eventually he's going to need to figure out what our mission objective in Iraq is beyond "victory."

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