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A Special Friday Night Pre-Debate Madman
September 28, 2008
Due to personal reasons, Note From a madman will be published sporadically over the next week or so. -NG
A quick search of this past Friday night's debate transcript shows an interesting pattern: Senator John McCain, the GOP nominee wants us all to know that Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, doesn't "understand". As a matter of fact, McCain wants us all to know that Obama doesn't stand so much that he insisted upon telling us every chance he got:
"I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand..."
"...but what he (Obama) doesn't understand..."
"I -- I don't think that Senator Obama understands..."
"Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..."
"What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..."
"He (Obama) doesn't understand..."
"Senator Obama still doesn't quite understand -- or doesn't get it ..."
No less than seven times did Senator McCain offer up his opinion that Senator Obama just "doesn't understand". Senator McCain is, "afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy" as it related to the War in Iraq. Too bad that most of the talking head news programs noted after the debate, McCain confused "strategy" with "tactic" as he was admonishing Obama. (Note: I didn't watch much of Fox News Channel's coverage. I switched between PBS, MSNBC and CNN for commentary.)
But what Senator McCain doesn't realize which most of our nation does, is that as long as the bulk of our troops and so much of our treasury is committed to Iraq, we are playing right into the hands of our enemy - al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
And when McCain said, "And, yes, Senator Obama calls for more troops, but what he doesn't understand, it's got to be a new strategy, the same strategy that he condemned in Iraq. It's going to have to be employed in Afghanistan," McCain has his very own problems with the deployment and "strategy" in Afghanistan. Iraq is by no means safe and it was the lack of troops, at the beginning of the war, that was the problem. With real experts calling for a larger initial force - one they considered necessary for the upcoming occupation in Iraq - McCain, the "expert" was nowhere to be found. He wasn't on the Sunday Morning news programs; he wasn't standing up in town hall gatherings to decry the lack of planning for the war; and he wasn't calling on President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or Vice President Dick Cheney to re-think their "Strategy" that led us to the necessity of a troop surge.
And when, in 2004, when future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi came on Meet the Press and suggested that we need more troops in Iraq, there was no John McCain sighting to stand next to her and confirm it.
REP. PELOSI: We need more troops on the ground. General...
TIM RUSSERT: American troops if necessary?
REP. PELOSI: ...Shinseki said this from the start, when you make an appraisal about whether you're going to war, you have to know what you need.
And when General Shinseki was being "retired" because he had the temerity to suggest that we needed ore troops on the ground, as now Speaker of the House Pelosi said so clearly in 2004, where was your support for him?
The original plan of attack, as prepared by former CENTCOM Commander General Anthony Zinni, was discarded by his former underling and successor General Tommy Franks. But Franks was just succumbing to the pressure he faced from Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney who wanted to see a "portable" army and a quick success in Iraq. Where were you, Senator McCain, when the original plan of attack was being torn apart by the Terrible Trio in the Pentagon and White House?
Now that we've established that McCain did nothing prior to the invasion of Iraq in advising the White house, we wonder what role he did play. Well, after the news came out that our troops were fighting a war without enough resources; and after the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post told us all that soldiers were going through trash dumps in Iraq to up-armor their Humvees. McCain made statements like this:
"The problem is that they don't have enough resources,"
-McCain on Meet the Press
But nothing was said by "The Maverick" that as the was in its planning stage. Let's just call it "Monday Morning Quarterbacking," and realize that it's a favorite pastime of Senator McCain.
Making bad decisions about our national security are not foreign to Senator McCain. More than once, the Candidate Formerly Known as The Maverick stated that Afghanistan was a success and that the terrorists are no longer a problem there. With inadequate troops strength and a "Strategy" of putting all of our efforts into Iraq, McCain failed to "understand" the national implications involved in fighting two wars. When McCain should have been calling for more troops and resources in Afghanistan, he had this to say instead:
ďNobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States of America,"
-McCain on Hannity and Colmes (April 10, 2003)
"There were many people who predicted that Afghanistan would not be a success. So far, it's a remarkable success,Ē
-McCain on CNN (March 2, 2005)
ďthe facts on the ground are we went to Afghanistan and we prevailed there,"
-McCain on CNN (Wolf Blitzer Reports, April 1, 2004)
Maybe the last quote was an April Fool's day joke.
ďAfghanistan, we donít read about anymore, because itís succeeded,"
-McCain on The Charlie Rose Show (October 31, 2005)
Or, perhaps, McCain, the foreign policy "expert" saw what happened to the Former Soviet Union in Afghanistan and decided that the US should take the same course. And now, today, he has had to change his tune:
McCain has suggested that the "success" we enjoy in Afghanistan could show us the way to "success" in Iraq. But more recently he has reversed that course:
"the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan,"
So as McCain tells all of us that Senator Obama "doesn't understand", one wonders what Senator McCain, himself, understands:
Say anything; do anything; change anything. It ought to be McCain's campaign slogan.
A Debate Review
Sept 27: Shorthand Thoughts after the first debate.
One candidate lags in experience, the other in credibility. Both get polarized into unrealistic positions, we need a better middle path. So far, I continue to pull for Obama, the less experienced but better intentioned one, who at least looks to moderate his views in the face of realism. And has the better collaborative skills.
On the Iraq war:
The dilemma of this conflict is that two domains have been collapsed into one.
A) The domain of the foundation for the war and B) Managing the war.
-On A) The foundation was a lie: Bush clearly stated our criteria were the WMDís and the evidence of terrorist support. Neither were true; and McCain, while attempting to show himself as the maverick who protested how we administered it (didnít hear much from him in 2004 though), he continues to avoid and deny that the INTEGRITY of the thing stank. Therefore, how can we trust his judgment on what are legitimate criteria for entering other conflicts?
Obama is right to bring this up as it is an indication of how the next president will enter conflicts.
On B) McCain has a point: whatever got us in, we canít just cut and run allowing a bigger mess that would pull us back in. Hereís where Democrats have been fooled or polarized into looking foolish: Objecting to A) the warís foundation means you must withdraw immediately. But thatís a bit like leaving the patient open on the operating table after you learn they didnít have tumor you thought. Once youíve used the scalpel, you must guide the patient through healing no matter what.
And guiding them through recovery does NOT mean you supported the surgery in the first place. And acknowledging that the surge has had some positive effect does NOT mean you condoned the operation either.
Both parties share some guilt on treating the American Public like meatheads who canít understand the difference.
To Obamaís partial credit, he keeps moderating his view on how soon to pull out- makes him look a little flip floppy, but also willing to re examine the evidence as it comes to light.
To McCainís discredit is his pedantic rhetoric (victory vs. Defeat) that cannot acknowledge the NEW reality of the NEW wars we fight: there are no clear winners anymore. In the ďoldĒ days, when you could knock out a specific regime leading a specific country, it was victory or defeat. In these days, when such regimes are extensions of decentralized networks fed from surrounding countries, you at best achieve an advantage when you topple a specific government, then are left with a long term commitment to keep the inevitable insurgents at bay.
So no matter who gets elected, we ainít leaving either Afghanistan nor Iraq anytime soon, even if weíre fortunate enough to push them both back to a temporary stability. Which leaves a question neither candidate addressed: that we need more troops in general. A LOT. Thatís another can of worms no one wants to open, I guess.
So just as Obama canít fully face the mess of leaving the misbegotten Iraq too soon, McCain is stuck in his antiquated notions of working to a specific day when we can declare Victory. Didnít we do that in both Afghanistan and Iraq before 2004, and didnít that come back to haunt us?
To McCainís credit; his recounting of his many trips over the years to these regions, his first hand legislative and military experience is impressive and thereís only so much intellectual reasoning Obama can trump up to counter this.
Experience is experience, no doubt.
To his glaring discredit: If experience is so important, as he emphasized in the debate, than how dare he pick a VEEP that pales even when compared to Obama ?
And donít tell us, thatís OK, sheíll have good advisors, because then the issue becomes moot as Obama can do the same thing.
We havenít even touched on the economy yet, where both men are truly in uncharted territory, like the rest of us.
The short note on this, is that while McCain, again, has the experience, he certainly wasnít using it to reign in the Bush administration he so avidly supported over the last eight years.
So there you have it so far. One Democrat guy wants to do better for the country, but is still a bit new on the scene and sometimes polarized to the opposite corner.
The other Republican guy wants to play both ends. Saying he was the rebel who objected to so many of the heinous Bush policies, but then again literally standing with Bush and the party on every political stage theyíve occupied for the last eight years. The man of true experience, who picks a running mate of meager experience. A credibility problem, I say.
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