07/26/2008 (9:05 am)
Finally, a politician telling the relevant truth. In front of the American GI Forum Convention in Denver yesterday, McCain denounced “the audacity of hopelessness,” while comparing Obama’s dismal record on the Iraq war to his own. Text supplied by Power Line.
Senator Obama and I also faced a decision, which amounted to a real-time test for a future commander-in-chief. America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama’s failed.
We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the “surge” was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops — which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn’t test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn’t matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.
Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.
And as our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. …
Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn’t have been more wrong.
By November 2007, the success of the surge was becoming apparent. Attacks on Coalition forces had dropped almost 60 percent from pre-surge levels. American casualties had fallen by more than half. Iraqi civilian deaths had fallen by more than two-thirds. But Senator Obama ignored the new and encouraging reality. “Not only have we not seen improvements,” he said, “but we’re actually worsening, potentially, a situation there.”
If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi Army would have collapsed. Civilian casualties would have increased dramatically. Al Qaeda would have killed the Sunni sheikhs who had begun to cooperate with us, and the “Sunni Awakening” would have been strangled at birth. Al Qaeda fighters would have safe havens, from where they could train Iraqis and foreigners, and turn Iraq into a base for launching attacks on Americans elsewhere. Civil war, genocide and wider conflict would have been likely.
Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. …
Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth.
Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. … In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.
Senator Obama said this week that even knowing what he knows today that he still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chooses failure. I cannot conceive of a Commander in Chief making that choice.
This is the unvarnished truth, something depressingly rare from politicians.
From a tactical standpoint, it’s a good start. About a week from now, we need similar points added regarding Obama’s purely opportunistic shifts on FISA, Israel, abortion, campaign finance, gun control, NAFTA, and capital punishment (hat tip to Strata-Sphere for the flip-flop list.) I believe there are similar issues that can be drawn from Obama’s tenure in the Illinois Senate as well. However, Iraq is the keynote issue here, and deserves a little time standing on its own in the public eye. The fact is that Barack Obama is a shameless, opportunistic political chameleon, and will not tolerate well being painted as that.
What’s Obama going to say? In public, I imagine he’ll posture about the unfair attacks, “smears,” from his opponent, and remind us that he represents a break from those divisive politics of the past, probably with a veiled reference to his race to remind us what bigots we all are to criticize him. In private, this comment from a Progressive at Dean’s World gives us a view of the blow-back from the Left, and it’s not pretty.
So far, the Leftward blogs are silent. Score a solid punch for McCain.
Photo by AP/Carolyn Kaster.
1 Comment »
Comment by darkhorse
Big Kudos here, Phil, and big Kudos to McCain. Obama is showing himself to be willing to obfiscate to get elected.
On the surge – it clearly DID do what was intended. This does not answer the question of whether the Iraq war was the right action in the first place, but Obama needs to belly up and admit that the surge was good military strategy.
I supported McCain in 2000 because of his honest character (in comparison to the other politicians in the race). This was in spite of some issue disagreements. He appears to be coming out on top of the character issue in this election again.
(Author’s note: I’m pleased to observe that for once, we agree, darkhorse. Kudos back.)