Sure, Arizona Senator John McCain’s campaign may still be selling him as some kind of “maverick” or “independent thinker” — and most of the media may still be buying that ridiculous line.
But when it comes to the fundamental foreign policy issue of the 2008 race – whether to continue the war in Iraq, and at what cost – McCain’s a yes man.
When Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. general in charge of spinning the Iraq quagmire as something other than a quagmire, and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, the U.S. diplomat charged with similar responsibilities, appeared before Congress, McCain greeted them the on-bended-knee position he has adopted since he decided that he would rather be the Republican nominee for president than a serious member of the U.S Congress.
Declaring with as straight a face as he could muster success in Iraq was “within reach,” McCain explained to Petraeus and Crocker that they would get no advice or counsel from this senator.
“Our goal — my goal — is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops, and I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine,” McCain told his task masters. “But I also believe that the promise of withdrawal of our forces regardless of the consequences would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership.”
Apparently confusing “moral leadership” with the denial of reality, McCain declared against all evidence that, “Success, the establishment of peaceful, democratic state, the defeat of terrorism — this success is within reach. Congress must not choose to lose in Iraq. We must choose to succeed.”
To describe McCain’s comments at the Petraeus-Crocker hearing as “meaningless” would be an insult to meaninglessness. He added nothing to the discussion except cheerleading, and he sent the general and the ambassador back to Iraq without the benefit of the experience and insights of a member of Congress whose background could have been of value.
McCain’s decision to go AWOL was as embarrassing as it was disappointing.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama both made more of an effort to live up to their responsibilities as senators.
As someone who voted with McCain to get into the mess that is Iraq, Clinton acknowledged reality when she told Petraeus and Crocker that it was “time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops” from Iraq.