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McCain's Rewrite of His Anti-Rumsfeld Script

By Peter Baker
As he gets closer to the Republican nomination, John McCain has been trying to balance his unqualified support for the Iraq war by reminding audiences that he was also a tough critic of the way it was managed until President Bush finally changed strategies a year ago. In recent weeks, McCain has gone so far as to tell audiences that he was "the only one" who called for then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation.

The only trick is he never did, at least not publicly. The senator from Arizona was a tough critic of Rumsfeld and more than once declared that he had no confidence in the Pentagon chief in the two years before Bush finally dumped him in November 2006. But even as he was criticizing Rumsfeld, McCain typically stopped short of calling for the defense secretary to step down on the grounds that it was up to the president to decide who served in his

McCain has rewritten that history a couple of times lately. While campaigning in Fort Myers, Fla., on Jan. 26, he told a crowd: "In the conflict that we're in, I'm the only one that said we have to abandon the Rumsfeld strategy -- and Rumsfeld -- and adopt a new strategy." Four days later during a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., aired on CNN, McCain said, "I'm the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go."

A McCain spokesman acknowledged yesterday that was not correct. "He did not call for his resignation," said the campaign's Brian Rogers. "He always said that's the president's prerogative." Asked specifically about the senator's statements in Florida and California, Rogers said, "I think he's really just pointing out that he's the only one who really called out the Rumsfeld strategy, and that is certainly true again and again."

McCain's enhanced version of his opposition to Rumsfeld has come as he begins to wrap up the Republican nomination and pivot toward the general election, where his embrace of the war presumably will not prove as popular as it has been with the Republican base. McCain's false account has been unwittingly incorporated into the narrative he is selling by some news organizations, including The Washington Post, that have repeated his assertion that he called for Rumsfeld's resignation, even though he did not. Liberal bloggers and advocacy organizations such as Media Matters have pointed out the discrepancy.

It's not clear why McCain would feel any need to overstate his public position on Rumsfeld given that he already had a pretty clear record of hostility toward the former Pentagon chief. The senator grilled the defense secretary fiercely during hearings into the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, publicly assailed him for not sending enough troops to Iraq in the first place and regularly critiqued his stewardship of the war. McCain openly derided some of Rumsfeld's more memorable statements, such as when the defense secretary dismissed insurgents as merely a bunch of "dead-enders" and brushed off widespread looting following the fall of Saddam Hussein by saying, "Stuff happens."

Several months after Bush fired Rumsfeld, McCain gave perhaps his harshest assessment. "I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history," he told an audience in February last year.

At the heart of McCain's case against Rumsfeld was the failure to send more troops to Iraq from the start. In 2004, McCain estimated that an additional 100,000 troops were needed to pacify the country. Ultimately, he became one of the biggest proponents of Bush's decision in January 2007 to send what would become an additional 30,000 troops.

McCain lately has pointed repeatedly to that position as an example of his willingness to stand against the political winds for what he thinks is right. At the time, it was highly unpopular, but in the end, he has benefited politically from the success the extra troops have had in helping to tamp down violence in Iraq. As security has improved, McCain has claimed vindication and polls have shown that the public is more optimistic about the situation on the ground there, even if most Americans remain just as opposed to the war.

For McCain, even with the security gains on the ground in recent months, support for the war may prove to be a powerful drag on his chances in the fall, according to analysts, and so it appears critical to his strategy to at least keep a distance from the earlier Bush-Rumsfeld strategy that by all accounts failed. Democrats plan to try to wrap Iraq around McCain's neck regardless of the nuance, pointing to any number of optimistic statements of his own that later proved unfounded.

McCain is hardly the only one to revise his earlier position when it comes to the war. Former president Bill Clinton claimed last fall that he had "opposed Iraq from the beginning," a far more unequivocal characterization than his nuanced statements at the time suggested. But such rhetorical liberties are especially risky for a candidate who premises his campaign on straight talk.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 14, 2008; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  John McCain , Morning Cheat Sheet , Primaries , The GOP  
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Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The surge is working? Of course it is, when 80,000 sheites are being paid not to kill Americans. Bush will need another $50 billion dollors so he can give them a raise to keep this so called surge working.But whats another lie when he has never told the truth about anything since stealing th Office. But he knowes his audiance, dumb down Murcans.

Posted by: Tumblebug | March 4, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Thirty five years ago John McCain served this country with honor and distinction. Today he just another politician who will say or do almost anything for a vote.

Posted by: jsori | February 14, 2008 11:22 AM


Excuse me, 35 years ago, John McCain made a concious choice to "let" himself be taken alive by our enemy! He made a concious choice to collaborate with that same enemy, and he made a concious choice to accept
"special treatment" from that same enemy in exchange for his cooperation. The "REAL" hero's of that "conflict" were the American soldiers, huddled in the jungles below, while "Johnny & his fellow flyboys" sprayed them with Monsanto's "Million Dollar Baby" chemical called "Agent Orange". You can still buy it today at your nearest outdoor center or supermarket under the innoccuous name of "Roundup Weed Killer". Sorry John ... you don't get my vote! I'm voting for Ron Paul!

Posted by: ricknhouston | March 2, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

How exactly is the Senator "lying" when every news organization covering that mentioned the approximately 100 U.S. troops and (less than 100) helicopter gunships that protected him?

Posted by: JakeD | February 14, 2008 11:49 AM

Read my lips, sheep! or should I say it like this ... baaah ba bah ba baaaahhh, baah bahhh!

I lie by omission is as bad or worse than a flat out lie because it emphatically intends to deceive!

Posted by: ricknhouston | March 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

McCain's criticism of the execution of the Iraq war would have been far more effective had he directed that criticism where it belonged: The Commander in Chief - you know, the DECIDER - is the one who kept Rumsfeld on as Defense Secretary in spite of his incompetence. Rummy was fired (oh..right..he resigned) only after Bush and the Republicans admitted to taking a "thumpin'" in the 2006 congressional elections due to the Iraq screw-up.

Posted by: joy2 | February 14, 2008 11:15 AM

You DID mean t say "Cheney" didn't you? We all know that Gdubya doesn't have enough Cocaine ravaged brain cells left that are capable of making any such determinations. He reminds me of an addicted lab rat ... "gimme what I want and you can have whatever you want in return!"

Posted by: ricknhouston | March 2, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Paying Insurgents Not to Fight

By Paul Craig Roberts

19/02/08 "ICH" -- -- It is impossible to keep up with all the Bush regime's lies. There are simply too many. Among the recent crop, one of the biggest is that the "surge" is working.

Launched last year, the "surge" was the extra 20,000-30,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq. These few extra troops, Americans were told, would finally supply the necessary forces to pacify Iraq.

This claim never made any sense. The extra troops didn't raise the total number of U.S. soldiers to more than one-third the number every expert has said is necessary in order to successfully occupy Iraq.

The real purpose of the "surge" was to hide another deception. The Bush regime is paying Sunni insurgents $800,000 a day not to attack U.S. forces. That's right, 80,000 members of an "Awakening group," the "Sons of Iraq," a newly formed "U.S.-allied security force" consisting of Sunni insurgents, are being paid $10 a day each not to attack U.S. troops. Allegedly, the Sons of Iraq are now at work fighting al-Qaeda.

This is a much cheaper way to fight a war. We can only wonder why Bush didn't figure it out sooner.

The "surge" was also timed to take account of the near completion of neighborhood cleansing. Most of the violence in Iraq during the past five years has resulted from Sunnis and Shi'ites driving each other out of mixed neighborhoods. Had the two groups been capable of uniting against the U.S. troops, the U.S. would have been driven out of Iraq long ago. Instead, the Iraqis slaughtered each other and fought the Americans in their spare time.

In other words, the "surge" has had nothing to do with any decline in violence.

Posted by: ricknhouston | March 2, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We are always reading now how Sen. McCain is misrepresenting himself in his speeches. Someone can always go back and tell us why he is mistaken. Why doesn't anyone ever face him with these mistakes? He will keep this up...old people repeat themselves...and if no one ever says anything about it, many people out there will believe what he says. If reporters are sharp enough to catch him in lies, why aren't they patriotic enough to call him on the mistakes?

Posted by: beccajo | February 27, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If I were Obama running against McCain, I'd print up several million posters of the photo of McCain hugging Bush Jr. like his long lost savior, to make the case for change.

This hug for the man who's campaign accused him of fathering an illegitimate "Black" child (she was adopted from Bangladesh)during the 2000 primaries in South Carolina. When McCain confronted Bush on that, Bush dismissed it as "just politics". So much for the "Straight Talk Express".

No words, just that picture. Says it all why we need to turn the page in this country.

Posted by: chris30338 | February 23, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

lostinmyownhead wrote:

McCain is walking a fine line here. If he goes to far to the right in order to appease the base, he risks losing the independents...

Too late for this independent and former McCain admirer. He lost my vote the day he showed up on stage with Jerry Falwell pandering to that kooky crowd.

McCain has abandoned all his integrity and it is sad sad sad.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | February 23, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

MacCain's senility is more evident as day goes

Posted by: bluelagoon21 | February 14, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I've been watching and listening to Senator McCain for a long time.
The thing that sticks out in my mind is his total lack of respect for the truth. I for one do not want another liar like POTUS Bush to occupy the people's house. This man has already shown he has no respect for the American People by the quantity of BS that he spews. We seriously need someone who has an affirmative relationship with the truth, we can't have another liar or we won't survive as a nation. Semper Fi

Posted by: mc2041667 | February 14, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

He wasn't even the first or only one to call for a change in strategy early on. Even among those who hadn't opposed the war, there was pretty strong criticism of how it was being conducted, from some Republicans and lots of Democrats (most notably Biden and Lugar, because of their positions as ranking member and chair of the relevant committee).

The fact is that John McCain is, um, just another politician. He's recently weaseled, waffled and flip-flopped on everything from Bush's tax cuts to his opponent's statements about Iraq to his own statements about his economic ignorance; but there's oh, so much more that's never been made much of by his (sorry, Peter) media fan base. What's the "maverick" rep based on, after all? Aside from simply not being nasty to Democrats, it's his fiscal hawkitude (now sacrificed on the base's anti-tax alter) and campaign finance reform (about which he may be perfectly sincere, but which he surely champions as a way to exorcise the ghost of Charles Keating). And sorry, torture isn't on this list: his silent acquiescence to Bush's signing statement on his much-lauded amendment earned him the nickname "John McCave" from my favorite talk-radio guy, and the everlasting contempt of many of us. Then there's his dishonest joining of the pile-on at Kerry's botched joke last year (ah, friendship! ah, nobility!); his reverse triple-lutz kiss-up to Pat Robertson (or was it Falwell? I always get my agents of intolerance mixed up...); and the list goes on.

He's hardly the worst pol ever to come down the pike, but let's face it -- he's just a pol. Now let's hear some straight talk about that.

Posted by: rjsobol | February 14, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

McCain didn't criticize the Rumsfield's actions, he criticized the results of those actions. The time say there was not enough troops was 2002 and 2003, not later. Being on Armed Services, McCain had a prime perch to do so, but passed. Which is all you need to know about John McCain's judgment regarding war.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | February 14, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse


You meant Gen. David "Betray-Us", right?

Posted by: JakeD | February 14, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Hillary also voted for the Iraq war. If the dems pick Clinton, there won't be much distinction on this issue between her and McCain. The decision to invade Iraq in the first place shows that neither Hillary Clinton nor McCain have very good judgment.

Posted by: LouiseFletcher

Good point, Louise. So, McCain is doing an about-face, eh? Oh geez, what a shocker.
Gosh, just how low will this man go in his pursuit of the presidency?
How sad for McCain.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | February 14, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

A little bit of John McCain goes a long way; my prediction is that the electorate will be turned off by him long before Nov., regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. His "hope-is-a-platitude" speech surrounded by the "setting sons" of VA's Republican establishment was a great example of just how maladaptive his style is. If Republicans think McCain can rise to the rhetorical or stylistic standards needed to compete against the youthful charism of an Obama they are as delusional as they were in putting Dole up against Clinton in '96.

Further, I don't believe in the bromide that old soldiers hate war because they know first hand its horror. That may be true for some, but for people like McCain, groomed in a generational military family, I can't help but think that without the battle something is missing. Such men feed on conflict not resolution. Indeed, McCain's "maverick" status can be seen as testimony to his "bomb-throwing" proclivities. The last thing this country needs is a paternalistic militarist at the helm, and I thing a sizable portion of the electorate will come to that conclusion after getting an unalloyed dose of McCain over the next several months with his teeth-gritting smile and "my friend" sneer.

Posted by: Woytowich | February 14, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

A Republican politian lying? I'm shocked, shocked to hear it. Round the ususal (Democratic) suspects.

Posted by: kschultz | February 14, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

There are serious problems with the following line (and it's a line that we are hearing repeated a lot these days):

"At the time, [the surge] was highly unpopular, but in the end, [McCain] has benefited politically from the success the extra troops have had in helping to tamp down violence in Iraq."

The "surge" per se is NOT responsible for the improvement in security and the decrease in violence in Iraq. The creation of the Awakening Groups is most reponsible. Sunni tribal leaders have abandoned the insurgency in large numbers and are working against it, and that has nothing to do with the surge.

The second most important factor has been the installation of Gen. David Petraeus and his adoption of a new counter-insurgency strategy. More troops have been useful, but they have not been the "make-or-break" component.

This is a classic example of people -- including those who should know better -- confusing correlation and causation.

Posted by: rlaw | February 14, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Looking for nits to pick here on McCain by asking when he decided Rumsfeld had to go versus declared it out loud. Compared to Obama, who claims to have opposed the war but who shyly voted apprpriations for it once he was in the Senate, McCain has extremely defined positions. Agree or disagree with those positions, at least McCain (as opposed to Obama) isn't "on the record" as trying to be all things to all people. Obama is the Democrats' Romney.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | February 14, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I have sympathy for McCain having been shot down, imprisoned and tortured while serving our country during the Viet-Nam egagement.
I have no respect for McCain for caving in to opponents to integrity and America by changing his position on torture. I expressed that in a letter to his office.
Since then, he has exhibited nothing but the worst traits of a professional politician.
McCain, weren't you for term limits, reduced federal gov't, non-interference in foreign gov't affairs, American freedoms and fiscal responsibility?
As Gilda Radner's character on SNL would say, "Never mind".

Posted by: ppnluv | February 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why McCain needs to puff up his anti-Rumsfeld credentials, either. He was, by far, the most vocal critic of Rumsfeld on either side of the aisle. I suspect his characterization has to do with the demand for sound-bite journalism. "I was the only one who called for Rumsfeld's resignation" works much better for journalists than a detailed explanation and it really amounts to the same thing.

It's very much like all those republican senators who made it very clear that they thought Alberto Gonzales should resign but didn't, technically, call for him to resign because they thought that was the President's perogative.

Posted by: anon99 | February 14, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

As the voting public, I think we need to make clear that we want to know the full plans of these candidates on Iraq, rather than rehashing the past. Frankly, I don't care who called for Rummy to go. He's gone and what's done is done.

All we ever hear are general statements, i.e. "get out" or "stay in", without any thoughtful analysis of how we're going to achieve either goal, the potential consequences of either choice and the plan to deal with those. We let Bush fool us in '03 because no one asked the tough questions. We are letting all of these candidates (OBama, Clinton, and McCain) do the same now. Stop dwelling on the past and get to planning the future, in detail.

Posted by: allknowingguy | February 14, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I cannot understand why so many are shortchanging Obama because of his experience. Oh yes, the republicans have a campaign to run, even though their candidate will continue with the suicidal policies of the bush crooks; Bush and company have destroyed our country and still the die hard hardheads will vote for more of the same. It is shameful.

Posted by: lumfleet | February 14, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

McNut,s reasons for Amnesty
McCain's God,s Children Argument!
Then there is they are all God,s children argument(Another McCain favor) well isn't everyone God,s children? If so then guess McCain is saying everyone and anyone has the right to Invade this Nation, waving their flags, demand their rights, while feasting at the trough of public welfare and Kill, Rape and Rob thousands of American citizens each year!

McCain's Lettuce Argument!
There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $50/head (or starving)( McCain really likes this argument) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. I have did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

Immigrant Argument!
There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since Everyone's an immigrant.

Stole Southwest Argument!
There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

Illegal pay taxes Argument!

There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

Illegal Bad..Amnesty good Argument!

There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but make them citizens and problem solved" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially. In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass amnestying them.

The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded health care facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don't assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.

Most that come across our open borders come from countries where, Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery, Anti-education, and hate for Americans has existed for centuries and is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?

Posted by: american1 | February 14, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

More "straight talk" from the "maverick." Sheesh. Can we finally agree that McCain is no more a "straight talker" than any other candidate -- and that includes Dana Milbank's fatuous pieces or Libbie Copeland's warm tongue bath for him. Enough.

Posted by: monk4hall | February 14, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"The decision to invade Iraq in the first place shows that neither Hillary Clinton nor McCain have very good judgment." Wait a minute.... The decision to invade Iraq was made during a period of very raw, personal feelings toward any Arab country, believing they all were complicit to some degree or other in the destruction of the World Trade Centers. We wanted to kill someone...we just did not know who exactly and where they could be found.

McCain was constantly biting at Rumsfeld, e.g. not being able to determine how to prosecute the war, what the rules of engagement should be, etc. John McCain was a thorn in the side of the President.

The Post and other newspapers are too quick to label someone. I suggest you back off on the labels and take a look at the social welfare side of John McCain and the bills he has co-sponsored with democrats.
He is not a lock step conservative, despite having to pay homage to the old goats PAC led by their grand poobah, Rush Limbaugh.

John McCain thinks about all of the ramifications of what he says, which is why TV news persons are driven nuts by him not giving them an instant answer.

I hope he wins in November. Our country cannot afford to have Clinton, who went along with 43 almost lock step; nor can it afford to have a junior senator from Illinois who just does not have the experience to run the country. He needs at least two more terms as a senator.

Posted by: jfregus | February 14, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Even The Trail loses its nerve halfway through this story. "It's not clear why McCain would feel any need to overstate his public position on Rumsfield....'' Oh good grief, man, you've walked us right up the the reasons why - he needs to do so to get more votes because so many of us might vote against him because of his pro-war stance. So why did you flinch? Yeah, I know. The whole "balanced journalism" thing.
May I humbly suggest that balance doesn't require flinching. And then you cap it off with the good ol' balance act of pulling up an example of Somebody Else Doing The Same Thing - this time it's Bill Clinton.
Yeah, true enough, but what's your implication - that Clinton's wrong step in telling the truth makes McCain's more palatable? Are we supposed to be comforted by this, uh, context? I want my 50 cents back.

Posted by: rburke30 | February 14, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing is a fairytale.

McCain is my senator, and it has been embarrassing to watch him attempt to rewrite history over and over.

He tells us he stood up against the Rumsfeld policy when he never "stood up".

What he did was whisper occasionally on "Meet The Press" and "Hardball" that we could use more troops.

He never demanded it on the Senate floor. He never introduced legislation, or even a resolution, that would have put more troops on the ground.

He never attempted to organize his colleagues in an attempt to counter Rumsfeld's disastrous folly.

No, just like Hillary's shameful opportunistic vote for the war, McCain refused to do anything that may have put him in a bad light with the militarists of his Party.

He expended no political capital, for fear of alienating a single GOP voter who was gungho for the war.

But, now to hear McCain tell it, he was in Rumsfeld's face and shouting "more troops" from the rooftops. When the truth is his "roar" was never more than a whisper.

Posted by: filmex | February 14, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Senator McCain is a good politician but the changes in his position makes him just a little to chamillion like to be president. He is to conservative for liberals and moderates and to liberal for conservatives and evangelicals. The wine master said when brewing wine that time is of the essence. It seems as if John McCain missed it.

Posted by: mgibbosh | February 14, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Here is a link that gives a lot of the specifics of the McCain market visit, what he did and did not say.

Posted by: steveboyington | February 14, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

When the Democrats exceeded even their own expectations in 2006 and got both houses of congress, and EVERYONE knew that it was a continued prosecution of a failed war that produced the result, the Republicans decided that they would have to get the message. Problem with all that was that they might have to give up a highly profitable war ($100 BILLION going some where, and it isn't military pay, pensions, and medical care - Bush wants GI's to pay bigger amounts for Tricare_- and even equipment.) and bragging rights for "Strong on Defense". Thus the "Surge" which has pretty much completed wrecking the Army, Reserves, and National Guard.

John can't actually accept the consequences of this mess and ADMIT HE WAS WRONG, so he keeps finding these non truths and evasions so he can tell the American People that he wants what they want. Instead, he tells them that he knows that they want VICORY, (which he can't define any more than the DECIDER can) and he intends to give it to them.

Of course, since the vast increase in the size of the Army, and the vast increase in the cost of the Army are costs he can't pay, he doesn't say how he will get victory, and in so doing admits that basically he intends to stick it to the Army until it totally breaks. Eventually the Democrats get the White House and the ruins of a Government, Military, and Diplomatic Service and have to do the rebuild, but John will (he hopes) be ling gone before that happens.

Just how bad are things in the Army? Check the suicide rate for troops stationed in Korea. The forgotten war. The one that never gets reported. the current malaise that is destroying our defense is striking their as much as it strikes in the Sand Box.

Still, the Conservatives will soon get what they wanted in 1940, the end of the United States Army. Remember, no cause is ever over until the Republicans get what they want.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 14, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Looks like cranky ol' man McCain's got a few flip-flops left.

Posted by: FirstMouse | February 14, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

How exactly is the Senator "lying" when every news organization covering that mentioned the approximately 100 U.S. troops and (less than 100) helicopter gunships that protected him?

Posted by: JakeD | February 14, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Back in the spring of '07, McCain told us lies about how safe it was in Baghdad. McCain claimed there were neighborhoods in Baghdad that were safe for him to walk though. McCain did indeed walk though a Baghdad market but the lying Senator never mentioned the approximately 100 U.S. troops and helicopter gunships that protected him and his entourage for the walkabout.

Posted by: dionc9 | February 14, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Thirty five years ago John McCain served this country with honor and distinction. Today he just another politician who will say or do almost anything for a vote.

Posted by: jsori | February 14, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

McCain is walking a fine line here. If he goes to far to the right in order to appease the base, he risks losing the independents that have put him in this position in the first place. If the base doesn't buy his 'reformation,' then they're just going to sit on their hands come November (seeing as how many of them seem to be okay with the prospect of a President Obama). The combination of those two things would leave him without a leg to stand on and demolish the reputation he has built up over his political career.

excerpted from:

Posted by: lostinmyownhead | February 14, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

McCain's criticism of the execution of the Iraq war would have been far more effective had he directed that criticism where it belonged: The Commander in Chief - you know, the DECIDER - is the one who kept Rumsfeld on as Defense Secretary in spite of his incompetence. Rummy was fired (oh..right..he resigned) only after Bush and the Republicans admitted to taking a "thumpin'" in the 2006 congressional elections due to the Iraq screw-up.

Posted by: joy2 | February 14, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Even if McCain had called for Rumsfeld's resignation, his statement would still be a lie, because he claims to be "the only one" who called for it.

Surely he means the only Republican? Most of the country was calling for Rumsfeld's resignation from 2005 on. Many started much earlier.

But even claiming to be the only Republican to do it is false, because Chuck Hagel publicly lost confidence in Rummy long before McCain did. Hagel was the first Republican to point out problems in Iraq, not McCain. And Hagel was ostracised for it.

The real lesson is that no Republican except Hagel had the balls to call Rummy out, and Hagel was marginalised within his party for it.

Practically ALL Democrats, except the Hillary/Lieberman pro-Bush wing, were calling for Rummy's resignation.

So if calling Rummy out was a good thing, which it surely was, vote Democrat.

Posted by: Bud0 | February 14, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Hillary also voted for the Iraq war. If the dems pick Clinton, there won't be much distinction on this issue between her and McCain.

The decision to invade Iraq in the first place shows that neither Hillary Clinton nor McCain have very good judgment.

Posted by: LouiseFletcher | February 14, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

A politician revises what they really said as election time approaches? I am shocked. McCain will portray himself as a moderate when it seems necessary and as a conservative when that seems necessary. He will say he is tough against terrorism, and, at least to conservative audiences, point to his support for the Iraq war, though this will occur less to other audiences, and he will not go into details as to why the invasion of Iraq represented toughness against terrorism. He has already embraced Musharraf in Pakistan as the type of leader we need to embrace. Just typical.

Posted by: Sutter | February 14, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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