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McCain, Bush, Reed On Iraq; Plus Imus, etc.

In his campaign trail stump speeches [um, is that a mixed metaphor? No: He stops along the trail and gets atop a stump -- thank you], McCain has been focusing on three major topics: Iraq, Immigration and Global Warming. The last two don't exactly electrify the Republican base (because his positions are not hard-line conservative). And the war is not a happy topic for anyone. Hence McCain campaign events can be a little somber, to say the least.

McCain is banking that the country will be looking for a tough, no-nonsense wartime president, and that he is the man. This morning McCain made his big speech about Iraq in Lexington, Va., at the Virginia Military Institute. Here are some excerpts:

"I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq. Unlike the veterans here today, I risked nothing more threatening -- nothing more threatening than a hostile press corps..."

[Actually that's a bit of false modesty. Listen to what he said Monday in Phoenix at a press conference:

Reporter: "Without the show of force that you had, would you have been comfortable walking around in that area?"

McCain: "I would feel comfortable, but the fact is, does General Petraeus feel that I would be comfortable and safe and secure and he didn't. And that's why he recommended that I wear chest armor and also we had a number of the military going with us. I'm not notorious for being nervous about going anywhere. I'm glad to go most anywhere in the world under any circumstances. But I did respond and do what General Petraeus asked me to do, and General Petraeus took us down there. And it's the first time that American congressmen have been down there to my knowledge."]

More from the VMI speech:

"Will this nation's elected leaders make the politically hard but strategically vital decision to give General Petraeus our full support and do what is necessary to succeed in Iraq? Or will we decide to take advantage of the public's frustration, accept defeat, and hope that whatever the cost to our security, the politics of defeat will work out better for us than our opponents? For my part -- for my part -- I would rather lose a campaign than a war..."

[Have to interject another editorial comment: He's essentially accusing congressional critics of the war of playing politics, of being opportunistic. But they're also representing the American people, and most Americans are not running for office or trying to capitalize on the "politics of defeat" in any way. They just think the war has been a disaster. So does McCain! Listen to what he said in Phoenix: "Of course they're angry and frustrated and saddened because we had a failed policy for nearly four years. It was a disaster."]

More McCain at VMI:

"A power vacuum in Iraq would invite further interference from Iran at a time when Tehran already falsely emboldened, feels emboldened enough to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel and America, and kidnap British sailors.

"If the government collapses in Iraq -- which it surely will if we leave prematurely -- Iraq's neighbors, from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Egypt, will feel pressure to intervene on the side of their favorite factions. This uncertain swirl of events could cause the region to explode and foreclose the opportunity for millions of Muslims and their children to achieve freedom.

"We could face a terrible choice -- a terrible choice: watch the region burn, the price of oil escalate dramatically and our economy decline, watch the terrorists establish new base camps, or send American troops back to Iraq, with the odds against our success much worse than they are today..."

"...A couple of days before I arrived in Baghdad, a suicide car bomb destroyed a large, busy marketplace. It was a bit unusual, because now new U.S. and Iraqi security measures in Baghdad have reduced the numbers of car bomb attacks. But this time, the terrorist had a new tactic. They drove their car to a security checkpoint and were waved through because there were two small children in the back seat. The terrorists then walked away from the car, leaving the children inside it, and triggered the explosion. If the terrorists are willing to do this terrible thing to Iraqi children, what are they willing to do to our children?"


Curious comment by President Bush yesterday in Fairfax:

'Liberty can transform enemies into allies. The hard work done after World War II helped lay the foundation of peace. How about after the Korean War? 'Some of you are Korean vets, I know. I bet it would have been hard for you to predict, if you can think back to the early '50s, to predict that an American president would say that we've got great relations with South Korea, great relations with Japan, that China is an emerging marketplace economy, and that the region is peaceful.

'This is a part of the world where we lost thousands of young American soldiers, and yet there's peace.'

Well, I guess it's all relative. "Peace" with everyone armed to the teeth and the peninsula still divided and a lunatic running communist North Korea etc... Is that what we're shooting for in Iraq???


Also yesterday, here was Jack Reed, the Democratic senator, at a news conference:

"I asked Admiral McConnell, the head of national defense intelligence, where is the most likely avenue or source of an attack on the homeland of the United States, Iraq or Pakistan? And without hesitating, he said Pakistan.

"Because we know they're reorganizing there today, Al Qaida and their elements, that there's some indication that it provided some direction to the attacks in London, at least some contacts. So if we really want to get back to the war on terror, we have to readjust our strategy in Iraq, refocus on Afghanistan, and do much more in Pakistan."


How do you think Don Imus feels today with the Rutgers women staring out from the front page of every newspaper in America? Great photo, slightly different in the Post, the NYTimes, and USAToday. I assume Imus is toast, because the latest horrible comment is part of a pattern that can no longer be ignored even by those who profit from the Imus show. The sponsors are running for cover. As goes Procter & Gamble, so will go Imus. Question: Will some of the executives above Imus -- the suits -- have to answer for this too?] [More to read: Lynne Duke's essay and the appended comments, most of them pretty thoughtful. And here's Howie.]


Today's List: Best Sports Movies. I'd flip "Rocky" and "Raging Bull" at the top.


Katie's new beau: too young to remember the Seventies??

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 11, 2007; 12:50 PM ET
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