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Posted at 2:47 PM ET, 05/30/2008

McCain, the Surge, and 'verb tenses'

By Michael Dobbs


Greensdale, WI, May 28, 2008.

"I can tell you that it [the Surge] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet."
--John McCain, Town Hall meeting, May 28, 2008.

John McCain got ahead of events this week in claiming that the United States military has gone down to "pre-surge levels" in Iraq. That will not happen until later this year, even by the most optimistic scenario. He is also wrong about the city of Mosul being "quiet", unless you exclude car bombs and other mayhem. His advisers attempted to spin his remarks as a simple matter of "verb tense." But there is a big difference between "Mission Accomplished" and "We expect the mission to be accomplished soon."

The Facts

The McCain campaign organized a rapid-response conference call with reporters in an attempt to limit the fallout from the senator's erroneous claim that "we have drawn down to pre-surge levels" in Iraq. The Obama folks pointed out that there are at present around 155,000 troops in Iraq, compared to a January 2007 force level of 128,569. The Pentagon is planning to get down to 140,000 by the end of July.

In a conference call with reporters, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said the issue was a "question of semantics," and that McCain would have been right if he had said that the Pentagon had "taken a decision" to draw down the troops or was in the process of drawing them down.

But verb tenses matter, particularly in the case of Iraq, where it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen next week, let alone next month. By the Scheunemann standard of linguistic analysis, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Bush administration's claim of "Mission Accomplished" back in May 2003. As we now know, a few things happened after that date to make the claim somewhat premature.

Taking a decision to do something and actually implementing it are two very different matters. To claim the contrary reminds me of the motto from the Ministry of Information in George Orwell's 1984: "He who controls the past controls the future; and he who controls the present controls the past."

Similarly Orwellian is McCain's claim that all is "quiet" in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, despite two car bomb attacks yesterday in the Mosul area that killed at least 20 people. News reports depict the town as the "last urban bastion of al-Qaeda" in Iraq. In the conference call, Scheunemann acknowledged that al Qaeda was still active in the area.

Had McCain limited himself to saying that violence in Iraq has declined dramatically following the surge, and that the Pentagon is hoping to bring troops down to pre-surge levels, he would have been correct. He can argue convincingly that Obama and other Democrats have played down the positive results of the surge. But the McCain camp is on very slippery ground when it claims that there is no appreciable difference between the past and the future.

Scheunemann was clearly irritated by what he considered to be "the nitpicking" of senatorial grammar. "If you're going to start fact-checking verb tenses," he admonished me, "we're going to make sure we start monitoring verb tenses a lot more closely than we have in this campaign."

Let's make it official: verb tenses are fact-checkable from here on out.

UPDATE FRIDAY 4 P.M.

McCain insists that he did not make a mistake, in verb tenses or any other way. "I said we had drawn down," he told reporters today. "I said we have drawn down and we have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn down the marines. The rest will be home the end of July. That's just facts, the facts as I stated them."

See the video here

For the record, those are NOT the facts as he "stated them." What he said was that U.S. forces had "drawn down to pre-surge levels." When politicians make an error, why can't they just admit it?

The Pinocchio Test

Prior to the conference call, I was inclined to give McCain a maximum of two Pinocchios for his misstatement about troop levels in Iraq. Everybody misspeaks once in a while. But the attempt by the McCain media machine to spin the mistake as a simple matter of "verb tenses" is an insult to our intelligence. Pointing to Obama's recent misstatement about his uncle liberating Auschwitz, Scheunemann says that all candidates should be held to the "same standard." I agree. Three Pinocchios.

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | May 30, 2008; 2:47 PM ET
Categories:  Candidate Watch  
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Next: 'The People Have Spoken'

Comments

He deserved 4 pinnochios.

Posted by: Tommy V. in Chicago | May 30, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It seems McCain's problem with not being good with the economy is more fundamentally a problem with not being good with math.

Posted by: Lisa | May 30, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I would have given him 6 pinnochios - three for the whopper about troup levels and 3 for the one about Mosul being quiet.

Posted by: Tim | May 30, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"Prior to the conference call, I was inclined to give McCain a maximum of two Pinocchios for his misstatement about troop levels in Iraq. Everybody misspeaks once in a while. But the attempt by the McCain media machine to spin the mistake as a simple matter of "verb tenses" is an insult to our intelligence. Pointing to Obama's recent misstatement about his uncle liberating Auschwitz, Scheunemann says that all candidates should be held to the "same standard." I agree. Three Pinocchios."

I am awestruck that you have the nerve to compare the the ranking minority member of the ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE'S INCORRECT STATEMENTS on ARMED SERVICES to a presidential candidate's incorrect account of a family story. Furthermore, the fact that Obama incorrectly stated was irrelevant to the subject matter of his speech, while the false statements that McCain made are central to the point he was making. It is absolutely heinous that you dare to compare these two things, especially considering that McCain's screw up is fundamentally important to our present day national security and the safety of our troops.

Furthermore, at face value McCain's statements constitute at the very least three pinocchios, not two as you stated, but in the context of your rating on Obama's story, they undoubtedly merit four.

P.S, I really am awestruck that you can even begin to compare these two statements, and that you are so lenient with a man whose career is centered around what he made a SIGNIFICANT error about.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

WOW, you have lost all credibility. You gave Sen obama 3 pinnochios for saying the wrong name of a camp, when the whole story was entirely correct. Like saying "my uncle has a house in london vs my uncle has a house in paris." the point is that my uncle has a house in europe. NOT a lie, a slip of the tongue, failing to remember, or just mispeaking as we all do from time to time.

So I came on here today b/c I wanted to see if you are a liar or a partisan hack or just lacking any credibility. Because surely a Sen mccain stating wrong troop levels must deserve something.

I would have agreed if Mr. Mccain had not just stood up at a presser today and stated another lie. He said that he never said the troop levels were pre-surge. Clearly a lie. Then his campaign is arguing verb tense. ARE YOU SERIOUS.

So for all that you gave Mccain the same rating as obama.

Note to all w/ a brain: FIND A NEW FACKCHECKER. NO NO NO credibility.

Posted by: esq | May 30, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe McCain gets the same amount of pinochios for spreading false information about the Iraq War as Obama for mixing up the names of concentration camps.

McCain has a political reason to spread false information about Iraq, and he has a clear pattern of dishonesty on this issue.

Obama had no political reason to say "Aushwitz" vs. "Buchenwald." This was clearly a mistake.

Posted by: Rich Cain | May 30, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm with the other posters who think McCain's claim is much worse than Obama's, especially because he came back and lied about what he had said to claim that he wasn't wrong in the first place. Obama got the uncle and the camp name wrong. That's not even London versus Paris, it's Paris versus a suburb of Paris. And Obama's slip was irrelevant to his story or his message or his qualifications.

Posted by: JoeT | May 30, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"Prior to the conference call, I was inclined to give McCain a maximum of two Pinocchios for his misstatement about troop levels in Iraq."

Really, your are not outraged as you were w/ Mr. Obama about something as "serious as the holocaus." Is the invasion of Iraq not serious enough for you to make a moral judgment on the nature of the misstatement.

"Everybody misspeaks once in a while."

Wow, really, I can't tell based on how you treated Mr. Obama's "mispeaking" on a completely true story before you even gave his team a chance to answer. And then, only took away 1P after you found out you drop the ball.


But the attempt by the McCain media machine to spin the mistake as a simple matter of "verb tenses" is an insult to our intelligence. Pointing to Obama's recent misstatement about his uncle liberating Auschwitz, Scheunemann says that all candidates should be held to the "same standard." I agree. Three Pinocchios.


Oh so you based your pinocchios on "same standard" from the Mccain campaign. Which means from now on whenever a politician mispeaks we don't need to come on hear to see what you think because 3 pinocchios is the standard. CORRECT?

WEAK, WEAK, WEAK. JUST COME OUT AND TELL US. WHAT IS YOUR REAL PROBLEM W/ MR. OBAMA

Posted by: false checkless | May 30, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

sorry for mispelling, I'm writing and thinking to fast. Maybe you can give me some Ps for that.

Posted by: false checkless | May 30, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"Prior to the conference call, I was inclined to give McCain a maximum of two Pinocchios for his misstatement about troop levels in Iraq."

Really, your are not as outraged as you were w/ Mr. Obama about something as "serious as the WWII." Is the invasion of Iraq not serious enough for you to make a moral judgment on the nature of the misstatement.


"Everybody misspeaks once in a while."

Wow, really, I can't tell based on how you treated Mr. Obama's "mispeaking" on a completely true story before you even gave his team a chance to answer. And then, only took away 1P after you found out you drop the ball.


"But the attempt by the McCain media machine to spin the mistake as a simple matter of "verb tenses" is an insult to our intelligence. Pointing to Obama's recent misstatement about his uncle liberating Auschwitz, Scheunemann says that all candidates should be held to the "same standard." I agree. Three Pinocchios."


Oh, so you based your pinocchios on "same standard" from the Mccain campaign. Which means from now on whenever a politician mispeaks we don't need to come on here to see what you think because 3 pinocchios is the standard. CORRECT?

WEAK, WEAK, WEAK. JUST COME OUT AND TELL US. WHAT IS YOUR REAL PROBLEM W/ MR. OBAMA?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

When McBush finally explodes his brains out his ears on the teevee, the U.S. press will print something like 'the senator cleared his head during the debate with Sen. Obama'. Except for those troops, and for those who died in Mosul, I am loving this.

Posted by: sansf@sbcglobal.net | May 30, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

It is heinous that you would compare this to a verbal slip. There are 2 possibilities for McCain's lie.

1) He is senile or uninformed.

2) He plans to continue the Bush strategy of lying about fundamental truths in the world and our policy therein. Even in July, we will not be at "pre-surge" levels--we will have 9% more troops than before the surge began. McCain wants to confuse us about the state of affairs in our country and abroad so that he will be free to extend the policy of ruining our country and the world.

Since 2) is more likely, I suppose that you intend to follow WaPo's strategy of repeating insensibly the lies told by the Republican Party.

Posted by: Luke | May 30, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the other comments - McCain's error is a deliberate, repeated distortion of the truth on a substantive policy issue for political gain and Obama's an unimportant mistake, quickly corrected. They are of an entirely different order of magnitude and relevance to the political debate.

Giving 'pinocchios' in the first place presents a slightly cavalier tone, as though spotting whether or not candidates speak the truth should occasion a sort of wry amusement - it's that sort of politics as sport approach that ultimately cheapens political discourse.

Posted by: aed20 | May 30, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

You have to be joking. His entire campaign is based on him getting the surge right, he made up success, and got caught making it up, and continues to maintain, he said something different. How is that just 3 Pinocchios, this lie undermines his entire campaign, and appears deliberate, and even if it isn't deliberate he clearly benefits from the lie if it is believed. Also he claimed Mosul was peaceful when 20 people were killed. Get some perspective, this is the most important issue of the election and McCain got caught lying twice about it in one sitting. How is a story about Obama's uncle deserving of as many Pinocchio's. Beltway punditry at work here.

Posted by: Julian | May 30, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

The error warrants 3 P's. Doubling down and claiming he was right all along should get him #4.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement | May 30, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, really,

should make SOME ATTEMPT to segregate mistakes from a lie. It's entirely feasible, Obama thought mistakenly for decades. It's not feasible, McCain doesn't know better than to say the Iraq troops are at "pre-surge" levels.

Yes, boo on you for giving Obama the Ps.

Posted by: speedemon | May 30, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Where's straight talk??? | May 30, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

You have to be joking. His entire campaign is based on him getting the surge right, he made up success, and got caught making it up, and continues to maintain, he said something different. How is that just 3 Pinocchios, this lie undermines his entire campaign, and appears deliberate, and even if it isn't deliberate he clearly benefits from the lie if it is believed. Also he claimed Mosul was peaceful when 20 people were killed. Get some perspective, this is the most important issue of the election and McCain got caught lying twice about it in one sitting. How is a story about Obama's uncle deserving of as many Pinocchio's. Beltway punditry at work here.

See his nose getting longer ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioy90nF2anI&feature=email

Posted by: Should be 10 Pinocchios | May 30, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

So, according to Mr. Dobbs, mixing up the name of two concentration camps from 60-some years ago is MORE dishonest (3 noses) than stating, falsely, that troop levels in an ongoing military fiasco - the subject of great debate over the past year, and the centerpiece of the campaign of the speaker in question -- have returned to their pre-surge levels (originally, 2 noses).

That's quite the double standard you're working with there, Mike. Thanks for disclosing your bias, thus saving me a return trip to your gimmicky little feature page.

Posted by: mak | May 30, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I certainly hope that, after the past 8 years of being lied to and deceived, that the American people don't excuse McSame for his flip-flops. He is intentionally misinforming voters and then repeating that misinformation once he's been corrected.

McSame must be a nightmare for his advisors because he doesn't even back up their own spin!!!

Posted by: NotThisTime | May 30, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Fact Checker. The Fourth Estate lives.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 30, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that you are still justifying assigning Pinocchios to Obama for an honest and inconsequential mixup about something that happened 60 years ago. You then try to equate it to McCain making a very consequential misrepresentation about the shooting war we are currently in.

Here's how an honest fact checker handles Obama's misstatement:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/501/
I suggest that you try to learn from it.

Posted by: bobcn | May 30, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

The would-be commander in chief should NEVER commit such an egregious error !! 5 PINOCCHIOS !

Posted by: Al Fabrizio | May 30, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama on his family member's service was essentially correct, and the error was trivial, and the entire discussion was trivial family nostalgia. 1/2 a Pinocchio if you bother to cover the trivia at all.

McCain's repeated errors on major key items of current events and policy are important: the slow draw down of the surge; Which groups are Sunni and which are Shia; Who the enemy is in Iraq, and that it is not the same as in Afghanistan, etc. 4 Pinocchios.

The question is how much is due to his not being very bright to begin with (894 out of 899 in college), mental decline with age, his personal ideology, the delusional neocon ideology of his advisors?

Posted by: DrSteveB | May 30, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I certainly agree with Quaker in a basement that McCain's recent lie about his statement ranks a 4.

The arrogance is more shocking than the dishonesty. Sen. McCain clearly thinks mere facts are beneath him and ought not dare contradict him.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | May 30, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

John McCain believes that bluster and repetition of something someone told him to say to clean up after making a fool of himself, will cover up the fact that he really is as dumb as dirt, doesn't have a clue and needs anger management.

McCain is beligerant, onery, arrogant and stupid. He is lackluster, sorry and no-account. In any debate, Barack Obama should walk up to John McCain, snatch up his trousers at the seat of his pants, and give him a wedgie to show all of his neo-con and lobbyist supporters that McCain wears depends.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

as we now see, McCain is even more like Bush than first thought.

He, like Bush, is willing to lie to the American people, not only in order to make our policy disaster in Iraq look like a great idea, but to actually lie about the facts on the ground.

We need a president who will tell us the truth for once.

Posted by: Alyosha | May 30, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Your rating system needs an overhaul.

You give three pinocchios to McCain who, when caught in error, proceeds to lie about what he just said. Compounding an error with a lie MUST deserve at least four pinocchios, right>

Posted by: Alyosha | May 30, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

McCain is bent on making this Iraq War THE issue of the campaign - a war that's burning a hole in your and my pockets.

Tell us something we don't know.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Dobb's, Your an Idiot!

Posted by: Luke | May 30, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

You've used the word "your" incorrectly. In this instance you should have used "you are" or, "you're", the contraction"

Perhaps he deserves three Pinocchios then.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

To Michael Dobbs

Obama said he wanted arabic speakers in afghanistan. His staff said he didn't mispeak.

Where is the fact checker on that.

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Luke:

You've used the word "your" incorrectly. In this instance you should have used "you are" or, "you're", the contraction. The word you used is a possessive pronoun, depicting ownership, as in "your car" or "your wife", or maybe..."your intelligence -- is lacking." Also, the man's name, if I am not mistaken, is Dobbs. What you've written is wholly incorrect, on every level, including the part about him being an idiot (no capital letters necessary.) Obviously, he is quite intelligent. Perhaps you disagree with him, but he is not an idiot. That much is clear.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Speechless.

Posted by: Casey | May 30, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

To Michael Dobbs,

Obama called the leader of Canada the president of Canada. Canada has no president. The leader of Canada is the prime minister of Canada. Canada has been under parliamentary system for 140 years.

Where was fact checker for that.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm with 4:07. Seriously, the war McCain is claiming knowledge of--and wants to be Commander-in-Chief of--is going on now. People are dying in it today...as we speak. It's much more relevant to our world than whether or not Obama mistook Buchenwald for Auschwitz (factcheck my spelling, I don't care). Not only that, but McCain's point was connect to the image he's trying to convey of Iraq currently being a swell place to spend a summer vacation. Obama wasn't planning on starting wars in Germany any time soon--as far as I know.

Get it together...this is serious business and we've been propagandized enough this war around.

Posted by: slag | May 30, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

To Michael Dobbs,

Last November Obama called the DC gun ban constitutional. Then in the philadelphia debate before the primary with the most gun owners in America he said he didn't know the facts.

Obama lied.

Where is the fact checker for that.

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

To Michael Dobbs

In 2004 Obama was against the Israeli wall and now is for it when he is running for President. He said to a palestinian activist who works for the tribune that he couldn't talk about Israel because of the election but he liked his critical work of Israel.

Where is the fact checker for that.

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm with 4:07. Seriously, the war McCain is claiming knowledge of--and wants to be Commander-in-Chief of--is going on now. People are dying in it today...as we speak. It's much more relevant to our world than whether or not Obama mistook Buchenwald for Auschwitz (factcheck my spelling, I don't care). Not only that, but McCain's point was connected to the image he's trying to convey of Iraq currently being a swell place to spend a summer vacation. Obama wasn't planning on starting wars in Germany any time soon--as far as I know.

Get it together...this is serious business and we've been propagandized enough this war around.

Posted by: slag | May 30, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: mbela44epa | May 30, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: t8lnlm0fwg | May 30, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you're holding these fools accountable, but your reasoning is terrible. In trying to manage political frustration with your column you let your other bad decisions color your present decision. You should treat each separately, regardless of the party of the speaker. If one party ends up getting more Pinocchios then that is just letting the facts speak for themselves, not some political bias.

I'm not even inferring this, you even mention that you took your atrocity with the Obama concentration camp story into account when you made this decision...

Your ham-handed attempts at avoiding the appearance of bias have made it so I'm not even happy with your decisions when they agree with my intuitions.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually I think this is all getting out of hand. The scrutiny to every word uttered by major candidates is reaching absurd levels. Part of the "problem" is that the presidential campaign goes on way too long, with frequent obsession by many in the media over truly trivial issues. The candidates give too many speeches and talks.

"Guilt by association" has been used more often already by many in this campaign to try to discredit certain candidates than probably ever before in modern United States history. The way this campaign has been covered has overall been an insult to intelligent Americans.

The most important issues facing the next president are health care, inflation, climate change, public safety, and the role of the United States in the world. The positions of Senators Obama and McCain on these issues should be receiving primary attention, not whose minister or supporter said this or that.

Posted by: Independent | May 30, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Your ratings should take prominently into account whether or not a candidate had reason to think (s)he would benefit from a misstatement. If there's no benefit reasonably foreseeable, then you should give a candidate no more than one "Pinocchio."

In McCain's case, his misstatement played into his argument that Bush's war in Iraq is a good idea. Therefore, three "Pinocchios" is appropriate,

In Obama's case, there's no conceivable advantage to placing his (great) uncle at Auschwitz rather than Bushenwald. Therefore, three "Pinocchios" was excessive.

Posted by: An Observer | May 30, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: mbela44epa | May 30, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: t8lnlm0fwg | May 30, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Well you know the saying.."There's no fool like an old fool"...except in THIS case, this is one Dangerous old fool....

Posted by: Hold_The_Tiger | May 30, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

DOBBS: 'By the Scheunemann standard of linguistic analysis, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Bush administration's claim of "Mission Accomplished" back in May 2003.'

There WAS nothing wrong with that claim. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was in fact a *mission* and when that statue fell, it had been *accomplished*. Geppetto Checkmark worthy stuff to be sure. Further, the Bush administration only "claimed" that in the sense that Bush gave a speech with a Mission Accomplished banner in the background.

Giving McCain that third pinocchio sounded a bit vengeful. Three of five army brigades plus all the marines sounds to me like the bulk of the additional "surge" troops have been brought home. But not entirely, thus two pinocchios would've been fine.

I suggest you fact-check an anti-war Bozo who complains about the cost of the war. Kerry in 2004 or 2005 hyperventilated about the amount that "Bush has already spent", while including funds that were approved for the *future* fiscal year's spending. That approach of exaggerating the cost is common, maybe even universal.

Posted by: The Angry One | May 30, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't you need to double down for McCain himself claiming that he didn't make a mistake at all?

Posted by: Scott in NC | May 30, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I admire a guy who sticks to his guns.

He went shopping in Iraq wearing nothing more than a jock strap for protection.

He could have knawed his way out of that bamboo cage anytime he wanted, but why do that when Charlie had to divert half his force to guard that cage?

Put me in a bamboo cage,
Make you feel all my rage,
I kick you more than you kick me,
I can kick you way up into a tree,
Ho ha ho hee hee,
Everybody in the book named Wang,
Wanna see my wang?
Fortune cookie not free,
I charge a dollar fifty,
You will fear my pain,
from General Chang McCain Wang!

Posted by: KAckermann | May 31, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with what others are saying: there is no equivalence between this huge McCain mistake and Obama's simple mistake regarding the name of the concentration camp that his uncle helped liberate.

The McCain mispeak is genuinely either a huge fat lie or a huge fat mistake. Either way it speaks very poorly of him. Worse, it speaks very poorly of the policies he formulates regarding Iraq.

The Obama mistatement was an honest mistake that anyone could have made, and did not alter the main point of the story, which is that his uncle helped liberate a concentration camp.

Then there's this other fact: the McCain camp stubbornly refused to admit a mistake when cornered on it. The Obama camp immediately admitted their mistake.

So McCain acts like Bush and denies reality. Obama acts like an adult and admits an honest error, and a trivial error at that.

McCain should get 4 Pinocchio's, since it was a huge error compounded with a dumb denial, and Obama none, since Obama admitted his error.

Posted by: comment | May 31, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Apparently there are never enough Pinocchios when you need them.

Posted by: vcsmith | May 31, 2008 5:20 AM | Report abuse

wawawa get a job you liberal whining bastards

Posted by: blueman62 | May 31, 2008 6:47 AM | Report abuse

what has big o done.if you haven't done anything then you can't making many mistakes .nothing NOTHING NOTHING

Posted by: bluesman62 | May 31, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Reflecting the comments of several previous posters, one cannot rationally equate the importance of accuracy regarding troop levels in Iraq with a family story from WW2.

All candidates employ a certain amount of historical conjecture and byperbole to amek themselves more personable and to identify with certain groups. Did Clinton's grandfather really teach her how to shoot? Was it really Auschwitz or Buchenwald? Is the accuracy of either of these really important to the political discourse?

The Iraq war is a central issue in this campaign, and the success of the surge and the level of troops in Iraq is an important aspect of this issue. To equate a mistake in this arena with an old family story is a disservice to your readers.

In the end, if your message is that all the candidates will lie, but they will do so in equal measure, have you really added anything to the policial discourse?

Posted by: Robroy | May 31, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Obama is unelectable. So it really doesn't matter how many Pinocchios you give McCain now or in the future. Sorry.

Posted by: Andrew | May 31, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey, here's a verb tense for you - I used to respect your journalistic integrity.

What a hack.

Posted by: LiterateVoter | May 31, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Interesting reactions to your column. Obama supporters (for the most part) observe and elucidate on the distinctions between the two statements to arrive at a logical conclusion that Mr. McCain's mis-assertions are far more serious than Mr. Obama's. Obama opponents (for the most part) call him (and his supporters) names or make illogical statements about unrelated events. And you actually allow the gibberish to be displayed in your blog?

All in all I like your work. You do point out factual claims that need evaluation. Your disservice is in allowing the illogical rantings of the infantile to remain on line.

Posted by: RationalHuman | May 31, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely, McCain should have corrected himself.

"I misstated the number of troops in Iraq.
We have drawndown 3 out of 5 divisions.
The remaining 2 divisions will leave by the end of June.

Now, I would like to personnally address Fr. Pflegler, Barack Obama's 'moral compass'.
You, sir, are a vile, petty little human being without so much as an ounce of true human compassion. I can only hope that Mr. Obama finds a new moral compass & offers a meaningful apology for his incomprehensible lack of judgment in ever befriending you. Thank you."

Posted by: katiewithroses | May 31, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"This guy is an idiot. If he was elected he would be little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot. It is so easy to come on these blogs and toss around insults but in this case you need only to look back at his educational history."

Can we assume you are speaking of the man who thinks there are 57 states? And thinks that he has one more to visit?

Posted by: stonhinged | May 31, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

One possible explanation about McCain's comments that I don't see mentioned anywhere in the press or by his political opponents, is that he engaged in "wishful thinking".

I think it's problematic for foreign policy and other policy as well, but I think it is more honest and attributes less sinister motives to Sen. McCain.

Posted by: Instructor 5 | May 31, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Poor John !! He doesnt know SHINOLA FROM SUNNI and SHIITE FROM SHINEOLA. Lord help us.

Posted by: Alex Campbell scac1 | May 31, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

This guy is an idiot. If he was elected he would be little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot. It is so easy to come on these blogs and toss around insults but in this case you need only to look back at his educational history. We need smarter people then this in our government. This guy can't even keep himself up to date on things he needs to know now, if for no other reason then to not be perceived as stupid. He is not even smart enough to fake it. I have no doubt he is also mentally diminished just due to age and past health problems. He can not be put in charge of our country.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 31, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Like I said, it is easy to throw around insults on a blog, but in the case of Mccain he is in fact average I.Q. and at worst an idiot. His educational background and grades proves it. He was a disgrace in the military and would have been thrown out in not for who his father was. He would not be a senator if his father-in-law hadn't bought him his career. What he does best is drink, that was his major in school. He is not qualified for any public office, not even the one he holds now. President, John Mccain, are you out of your mind? You are welcome to say things about Obama but his I.Q. is in the 150.s I believe and is proven to be brilliant. Sorry, an intellect argument between Obama and Mccain are not even close. Mccain is somewhat of a moron. Sorry that is a fact.

+++++++++
"This guy is an idiot. If he was elected he would be little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot. It is so easy to come on these blogs and toss around insults but in this case you need only to look back at his educational history."

I think the writer must be talking about the guy who thinks Arkansas is closer to Kentucky than is Illinois, and who has the ability to see "fallen heroes" in his audiences, and who believes the US has more than 57 states, and so on. Holy cow! Some people want this guy in charge of the free world? He's a good speaker when he stands in front of a teleprompter, but without one he is, as the earlier writer says: "...little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot."

Posted by: david | May 31, 2008 6:50 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | May 31, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"This guy is an idiot. If he was elected he would be little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot. It is so easy to come on these blogs and toss around insults but in this case you need only to look back at his educational history."

I think the writer must be talking about the guy who thinks Arkansas is closer to Kentucky than is Illinois, and who has the ability to see "fallen heroes" in his audiences, and who believes the US has more than 57 states, and so on. Holy cow! Some people want this guy in charge of the free world? He's a good speaker when he stands in front of a teleprompter, but without one he is, as the earlier writer says: "...little more then a puppet for whoever is pulling the strings in the back room. Not because he is so dishonest but he is stupid. He is a man of at best average I.Q. and worst an idiot."

Posted by: david | May 31, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama is WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG on the surge and lacks the stones to own up to it. And if you do not know the difference between troup(e)s and troops you're an idiot.

Posted by: JDKCHEM | May 31, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everyone here who says this clearly merited four pinnocchios.

The fact-checker has neglected to point out that - even if you pretend McCain just got the verb tense wrong - he would still be out on troop numbers by 10,000.

Because when the planned drawdown is finished, there will still be 140,000 troops in Iraq, 10,000 more than the pre-Surge level.

Obama's Auschwitz-Buchenwald error was utterly trivial because

(a) it didn't alter the thrust of what he was saying, which remained entirely true: he did have a relative who liberated a death camp and came back traumatized. McCain's error undercuts his entire point, as well as his image.

(b) Auschwitz-Buchenwald wasn't knowledge anyone needs to have as president. Iraq is.

McCain presents himself as a serious foreign policy expert (that means military expert to Bushists), and his repeated basic errors show he's no such thing. Just another shallow, incurious GOP hack, briefed on a few basics and sent forth with a few crude talking points to frighten the children.

McCain's errors are so large and so fundamental that even I'm shocked, and my expectations for him were already at rock bottom.

I'll bet even Dubya is more clued-up than that.

Posted by: kenonwenu | May 31, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

McSame's blunder goes against the heart of his claim to be "the expert" who is fit to lead this country on matters of national security (i.e Commander in Chief). If McSame does not know the level of troops in Iraq how can we trust him to secure victory let alone continue this misguided war? Those concerns, coupled with the fact that he does not know the difference between the forces involved in the war (i.e. Sunnis vs Shiites), just proves McSame lacks a grasp of the situation.

It seems McSame's much touted visits to Iraq did not help him keep track of the troop count there or the factions involved.

Maybe it is forgetfulness. Maybe it is just plain ineptness. In either case, it is dangerous for the US, particularly coming from a potential Commander in Chief.

America deserves better!

Posted by: Vgirl1 | May 31, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama didn't even know who the leader of Canada was.

Obama said we need arabic speakers in Afghanistan.

Hello Afghanistan is not in the middle east.

I doubt the left will make it a talking point that Obama thinks Afghanistan is in the middle east. Obama thinks people in iraq speak pashtun.

Obama bought a home from Rezko who was under federal investigation.

Obama said 10,000 people died in tornado in kansas.

Obama said 100 million died in burma.

Obama thought sunrise florida was sunshine florida.


No one makes more gaffes than Obama.

Obama thought there were 57 states. He is Mr affirmative action.

Posted by: Dan | June 1, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

"Obama said we need arabic speakers in Afghanistan."

That is because there ARE terrorists in Afghanistan who's primary language is Arabic. Afghanistan was attacked by us because they were harboring terrorists, the large majority of them speak Arabic.

So shut up you little fruitcake and get your facts straight and turn on your brain brfore you open your mouth.

And tell McCrappypants the difference between Sunni's and Shiites and who's training who after his campaign manager finishes his lobbying deals for Iran.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2008 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Are you MsSame people really going to make the case that the country is on the right track? You want this senile, wholly owned mouthpiece of the Republican National Committee to push the Bush/Cheney program for four more years. This dope was the best you could do?

Well the great majority of us are going to work very hard to prove that not only is Obama electable, we are going to crush you.
The Clinton victory was the hard part. You have nothing.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 1, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree that giving Obama 3Ps for an obvious mistake while the substance of his message was unchange and giving McCain 3Ps for what can only be seen as either incompetence (on a subject that he claims expertise) or dishonesty.

Your comparison doesn't work and you should admit that you have made a mistake...or mispoke...or simply that you're bias...

Posted by: amenzoser | June 1, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

If you can seriously tell me that the situation now in Iraq is anything like 2005 or 2006, then go ahead, mince words. For me the surge worked. We'll probably reduce troops, but either way Iraq has been quelled thanks to the brilliance of Petraeus and Bush.

Posted by: John Bailo | June 1, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hi Everyone,

take special note of Dan = all republicans

Best the RNC has to offer = lies

Republican voters = completely uninformed and buy off on and spread RNC lies

Go to your local elementary school and ask to examine a globe.

Posted by: speedemon | June 1, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

McCain doesn't seem to know much about anything that's of importance. Lord, spare us from him becoming our president.

Posted by: Jeff | June 1, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Give McBush one Pinocchio for each American who has been killed because of the invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: Jeff | June 1, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

McCain needs to take responsibility for his own spoken errors. The press let Bush off the hook on numerous occasions. McCain needs to eat some crow on this one.

Remember, this is the same McCain that made the following statement.

"My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will that will then prevent us that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East." John McCain, Denver, Co. May 2 , 2008.

Obama is a very thoughtful conversationalist. Hillary allowed her wagon to get caught in the mud of innuendo, hyperbole, sarcasm, and high drama. I still encourage everyone to read The Audacity of Hope.

Have a great day, everyone.

Posted by: Earl C | June 1, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Ragrding those who praise Petraeus and Bush on the recent "success" in Iraq is like a police chief who takes credit for reducing the number of murders per year in his city from 100 to 50. Granted, things are moving in the correct direction for the time being. On the other hand, 50 people are still being murdered. Do the people feel any safer?

When one inspects the devastation in Iraq, the 100's of thousands of civilians who have been killed, the towns and medium-size cities that are virtual ghost towns, the millions of refugees in Syria and Iran, and the lack of functional infrastructure, you tell me that things are a success. It is wonderful that American troup deaths are dramatically down at this point. As in the past, there is likely to be another spike in this number.

I still maintain that my friends who are adamant that there should not be one legal (or illegal) abortion in our country, do not seem to mind the deaths in Iraq. We have now gone way beyond the deaths brought on by the attacks on 9/11. We also fail to look at the total American deaths in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It seems like we have not come out on top. Gas prices at $4 per gallon, a crippled economy, an approaching $10 trillion debt, a crumbling infrastructure, and on and on. Tell me about success.

Posted by: Earl C | June 1, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Obama tells a story and confuses concentration camps, apologizes, and gets thrown 4 pinnochios before having one withdrawn. This occurred despite the fact that all of the story was true other than the name of the camp. McCain makes a huge mistake related to current facts and policy and gets 2 before having one added because he will not admit the error after being corrected. Why do you get the name factchecker? The subjective scoring is pathetic.

Posted by: Dobbies | June 1, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Re: equating Obama's mistake about the name of the concentration camp with McCain's misstatements about Iraq.

No, the public isn't stupid. And Scott McClelland was right about the press. A pack of wimps. How hard would it have been to refute Scheunemann's attempted comparison?

Posted by: Jimi | June 1, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

This week brought yet more proof that John McCain's grasp of his signature issue -- the war in Iraq -- is less than firm. "I can look you in the eye and tell you [the surge] is succeeding," he told a town hall crowd. "We have drawn down to pre-surge levels." Only we haven't. There are currently 155,000 troops in Iraq; there were 130,000 before the surge. He also announced that Mosul is "quiet" -- even though earlier that day three suicide bombings rocked Mosul and a nearby town, leaving 23 dead. The day before, McCain mocked Obama for declining to accompany him on a trip to Iraq, saying: "We've got to show him the facts on the ground." Which facts are those, Senator -- the ones you're making up as you go?

Posted by: keep it right | June 1, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

"This is a crisis. We may have to push the button"...versus..."This is a crisis. We pushed the button".

Now, that is a change of tense. Poor John..he keeps doing this. At least, as he was wandering around Iraq, he had Joe to hold his elbow and keep him from wandering into landmines and such..but the guy doesn't seem to know the main players, what they're doing, or where they're doing it! Then he invites Obama to "go with him to Iraq", to show him "the ropes". Probably wants to take him to a lovely little picnic spot he found in Mosul, to prove how peace and love has returned to the country! Fortunately, Obama has better sense than to ever consider even going to the lobby sandwich stand in the Senate building with this very scary man!

Posted by: JansKid | June 1, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

How can we trust this guy? He's on tape saying what he said and still he denies saying it. His arrogance is only surpassed by his stupidity.

Posted by: arny | June 1, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

You may be capable of checking facts but apparently are poor at comparing them. And you shouldn't compare apples and oranges. Judgement is much harder than simple fact- checking.

Posted by: Dave | June 1, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

No comparison!What Obama said and what McCain said ar not in the same ball field. Take McCain's statement and couple it with his absurd statement of saving 100 million dollars from pork in the first year, when he can't say how or from where, and you have some reality. This guy will lie and manipulate facts for his own gain. Kinda like Bush and Cheney about going to war, isn't it?

Posted by: tiredofstupidity | June 1, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Michael - give yourself three Pinocchios for being both wrong and stubborn!
In this instance, it does not make sense to give McCain the same number of Pinocchios as you gave Obama (for mixing up the names of concentration camps). Both mistakes were similar but Obama quickly admitted and corrected his. McCain still refuses to admit his mistake even though he was obviously wrong.
Just like you!

Posted by: jfkeanewa | June 1, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Mccain has admitted he's doesn't understand economics, now he's having trouble understanding Iraq and who's who there and how many troops are there. The list goes on and on. I'm not sure Mccain is ready to be president. If Mccain is making so many mistakes now. Just imagine how many mistakes he'll make under pressure as president. The worst he could have done is his repeated gaffe on confusing the Shiites with the Sunni after the gaffe of the same in Iraq during is interrogation with Gen. Patreaus. That was the icing on the cake. As if that wasn't enough he continues to go out on the stunt and add to these blunders with more gaffes. Mccain has some explaining to do. Why does he keep confusing these tribal groups after he's been in Iraq on several different occasions. If he wants to stay in Iraq which millions of Americans want to end the war in Iraq, he has an strange way of selling his policy of staying there for 100 years, 1,000 or 10,000 years which is again a strange way to sell a war that is unpopular. Sometimes I wonder what Mccain is thinking. He seems to be disconnected with the rest of Americans. He thinks Americans wouldn't mine being in Iraq for 10,000 years that absurd. Why say something as stupid as that knowing we want out. I don't know about Mccain.

Posted by: Blake | June 2, 2008 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Obama rather politely suggests that McCain doesn't show the mental characteristics of a Commander in Chief.

His team's misguided acts in covering up his errors don't indicate winning qualities on his part as a judge of whom to select and how to deploy them, either.

Posted by: FirstMouse | June 2, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

The campaign that gave us the "Straigt Talk Express" is now calling McCain's false statements a "question of semantics." Come on. At least 4 Pinnochio's are warranted here.

Posted by: VAReader | June 2, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This one is off the charts. You give McCain the benefit of the doubt and claim that he misspoke about troop levels in Iraq. That would deserve 2 Pinocchios. But when McCain was confronted with the mistake he refused to correct it. How in the world does he not get 4 Pinocchios. There is no doubt that he is willfully misleading the American people and in my opinion no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt that was originally awarded him. And by the way you would give McCain 2 Pinocchios for mistaking current American history but Obama 3 Pinocchios for mistaking WWII history --- curious.

Posted by: Pam | June 2, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I really don't understand how McCain thinks we could accomplish anything in Iraq in the next four years. Like politicians, I went to college; I took courses in history, religion, and economics, too. If I can understand how long and why it took our ancestors to be able to run a democratic government, why can't Bush and Mc Cain?
The Romans adopted the democratic ways of governing from the Greeks. It took over a thousand years before their culture was able to allow a party to be elected without killing the other.
Iraq is kind of the same; their culture at the moment, can not allow them to be a democracy. I don't know how in the world the Republicans think they are being productive in Iraq and will be able to transform the Iraqi people's belief system. That's pretty much what would have to happen for Iraq to be a democracy; it could take 100s to 1000s of years, just like the Greeks and Romans... And, the Iraqis have to want it. The Greeks and Romans wanted change...

That is why I think the whole war was shady from the beginning. I didn't think spreading democracy was Bush's reason for going to Iraq; he knew better and obviously, his father did too or the idea of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Bush has acted like a dictator throughout his second term. And I think McCain will be the same; he is already showing signs of it.

I am all for Obama, but unlike many Hillary supporters, I would vote for Hillary in a heart beat if she gains the nomination for some reason. At least Obama and Hillary share the same goals. I would never vote for Mc Cain and help throw my and your future away out of spite; that's what a lot of Hillary supporters are claiming that they will do. It's a shame, it really is. They would be willing to ruin their's and their children's future over it. I personally think if more people were educated in history and religions, that Obama would already be the nominee. He has such a rich cultural background that will help him serve well. He has lived in other cultures and has a better understanding of foreign relations because of it. That's the main reason why he is getting my vote, besides wanting out of Iraq. This country needs a lot of help from other countries at the moment and we won't get it with the image Bush gave us.

Posted by: McBushy | June 2, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

McBushy writes: "I really don't understand how McCain thinks we could accomplish anything in Iraq in the next four years. Like politicians, I went to college ... If I can understand how long and why it took our ancestors to be able to run a democratic government, why can't Bush and McCain?"

Maybe this would help you to understand them:

Bush did poorly as a student after being admitted to elite universities as a 'legacy' due to his wealthy family's influence.

McCain was admitted to the Naval Academy, despite a poor academic record (he called his high school years "undistinguished, but acceptable"). It's not clear whether his father (a naval admiral) pulled strings to get him in. McCain proceeded to graduate 894 out of 899 -- five from the bottom of his class.

McBushy -- could it be that your difficulty in understanding Bush and McCain's thinking is due to your actually paying attention while you were in class?

Posted by: bobcn | June 2, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the above posters. You are a shill and a hack, but I suppose it pays well... being a spineless apologist for aristocracy and power. Bravo sir, your children must be proud!

Posted by: Bill | June 2, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

McCain is and always has been a liar and a serial exaggerator. His only constituents have been the rich, developers, car dealers and lobbyists throughout his entire congressional career. The man was a total screwup from the beginning, finishing fourth from the bottom of a class of 980 some cadets at the naval academy. If your a Bush supporter he's your man. There is no other reason to support McCain. He has done nothing besides line his and his supporters pockets since he moved to Arizona to get elected all those years ago! Read all about it at the Washington Post, New York Times and the Phoenix New Times. Look for developers, land trades, military base land in California, Donald Diamond and Carl Linder to get a taste.

Posted by: Teo | June 3, 2008 4:10 AM | Report abuse

Double standard.
I echo the other comments on the double standard. Especially since you say that you only raised McCain to three after his campaign tried to spin it.
Obama did misspeak. He remembered an old family story and connected it with the wrong concentation camp. Sure, he should have fact checkers look over all his statemtnets before uttering them.
McCain, OTOH, lied about what has hbeen done and about the results.

Posted by: Frank Palmer | June 3, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

You have lost this reader once and for all. The way the Post bends over backwards to protect McCain is almost as disgraceful as the Post's reporting on the lead up to the invasion of Iraq- tendentious at best. McCain has lied several times about Iraq- not mistakes but deliberate distortions of facts to advance his "In Iraq for 100 Years" agenda. Obama's slip of which camp his relative helped liberate was a misspeak not a lie- McCain's claims about the surge are lies to stop any and all debate about the war. I hardly think the two are comparable.

Posted by: andrew | June 3, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The notion that Obama's mistake in regard to his personal family history in referring to his great-uncle as his uncle and Buchenwald as Auschwitz, a mistake he readily acknowledged, and McCain's major error about the most important of American foreign policy issues and supposedly his core competency, an error he repeatedly lied about, are EQUIVALENT is a severe insult to our intelligence and to any sort of ethical integrity and itself deserves numerous Pinocchios.

Posted by: truth machine | June 3, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"Can we assume you are speaking of the man who thinks there are 57 states? And thinks that he has one more to visit?"

Typical of the cluelessness and dishonesty of Obama's detractors. He did in fact have one more to visit, as Alaska and Hawaii weren't on his schedule. 50-2-1 = 47, which he misspoke as 57. It is those who take this as meaning that he doesn't know how many states there are who are fools and liars.

Posted by: truth machine | June 3, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"Everybody misspeaks once in a while."

A standard that you did not apply to Obama. Like McCain, you are a fundamentally dishonest person, whereas Obama is an honest person who made an honest mistake. Honesty doesn't deserve pinnochios. And dishonesty like Mccain's and yours deserves real condemnation and real sanctions, not a cushy job as a propagandist.

Posted by: truth machine | June 3, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

He's a pathelogical liar. Total piece of garbage.

Posted by: Don | June 5, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm not defending McCain necessarily, but it seems like something has gone unaddressed. What is the meaning of "draw down"? Is this is a military term that McCain may be using in a nonintuitive way?

If troops are told that they are coming home after their current tour of duty, are they "drawn down," or are they not "drawn down" until they arrive back on American soil? Even if the war was ended tomorrow, there would still be troops in Iraq for a few months as the logistics of moving all those people and all that equipment played out.

I don't know the answer here, but it does strike me as relevant to whether McCain's statement was false or just carefully parsed.

Posted by: MD | June 8, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

McCain's entire claim to the presidency is based on the big lie, that his promotion of the surge, and the convincing of the Bush administration, to take that route, has given our side a big victory in the war so that we can now see light at the end of the tunnel, where victory now is possible.
McCain has to be out of his feeble mind to draw that kind of a conclusion.
Our small number of troops that represented the so called surge, was like a mosquito biting an elephant! It did nothing to change what is occurring with regard to terrorism or the ending of the civil war.
When will republicans realize that Iraq is no longer a nation. Iraq is a group of tribal factions in a civil war with other tribal factions for the control of what was once the nation of Iraq.

Posted by: Richard Walters | June 12, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

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