John McCain’s Shameless Call for Escalation in Iraq


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

John McCain's Shameless Call for Escalation in Iraq
By Allan Uthman, Buffalo Beast
Posted on December 15, 2006, Printed on December 21, 2006

"I understand the polls show only 18 percent of the American people support my 
position. But I have to do what's right... In war, my dear friends, there's no 
such thing as compromise. You either win or you lose." -- Senator John McCain

Funny -- it's the same way with elections.

So John McCain has joined Bush in throwing a shit fit over the Iraq Study 
Group's recommendations. What's bothering him? Well, it's certainly not the fact
that no one who participated in the ISG had the foresight to oppose the war in 
the first place. McCain yelled at Baker and Hamilton last week because they 
didn't like his proposal to increase troop strength in Iraq by a number 
somewhere between 20 and 40 thousand. But the real bone in McCain's increasingly
freakish craw? If the ISG recommendations are followed -- an unlikely event 
considering Bush's classic "whatever" dismissal -- US combat troops will be out 
of Iraq before McCain has a chance to get his election on.

While McCain's insistence on "re-invading" Iraq and holding out for a miracle 
has been assailed as unrealistic except by diehard hawks and Bush loyalists, it 
has also been absurdly misinterpreted as the brave, bold stance of a man who 
puts the welfare of his nation above his own presidential aspirations. The 
common take is that McCain is "jeopardizing" his electability by continuing to 
support an unpopular war. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said McCain is "swimming 
against the tide." CNN's Wolf Blitzer gushed that it was "a Profiles in Courage 
kind of statement." Even the UK press got in on the act, with the Times of 
London's Bronwen Maddox arguing the report "damages" McCain, making him look 
"like the nation's maverick, not the next president." Anatol Lieven wrote on the
Guardian's website that McCain "seems to have committed himself to a course 
which could very well cost him the presidency in 2008."

These opinioneers are either lying or stupid. Mainstream journalists are loath 
to engage in "straight talk" about McCain in deference to his heroic legend. In 
the simplistic, shorthand narrative of American political coverage, McCain's 
flashcard has the word "integrity" on it in big red letters. It's as if a few 
years of torture and imprisonment renders one immune to ambition, vanity or 
dishonesty for a lifetime. That may sound callous, but the truth is that McCain 
has time and again proven willing to change his tune on issues of conscience for
maximum convenience, and has even admitted as much. In May, McCain told Fox 
News' Chris Wallace all about it: "I've found in my life that when I do what I 
think is right... it always turns out in the end OK. When I do things for 
political expediency, which I have from time to time, it's always turned out 

Asked for an example, McCain elaborated: "I went down to South Carolina and said
that the flag that was flying over the state capitol, which was a Confederate 
flag, was -- that I shouldn't be involved in it, it was a state issue. It was an
act of cowardice," he said, admitting he had done it to help his chances in the 
South Carolina primary and seeming only to regret the act because he "lost 

Early indicators of the depths to which McCain will stoop to win include his 
freshly appointed campaign manager, professional scumbag Terry Nelson. Nelson, 
Bush's national political director for his 2004 reelection campaign and an 
unindicted coconspirator named in Tom Delay's money-laundering indictment, is 
responsible for the infamous below-the-belt white bimbo ad which helped sink 
Harold Ford, Jr.'s senatorial campaign this year by exciting the powerful 
anti-miscegenation Neanderthal demographic in Tennessee. The appallingly racist 
ad drew so much heat that Nelson was fired by Wal-Mart, but McCain apparently 
has lower standards.

Further examples of McCain's shamelessness come in the form of flip-flopping: On
abortion, from "I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then 
force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous 
operations" in 1999 to "I do believe that it's very likely or possible that the 
Supreme Court should -- could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return 
these decisions to the states, which I support" last month. On the gay marriage 
amendment, from "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of 
Republicans" in 2004 to "reconfirming" his support for the same amendment to 
Baptist gasbag Jerry Falwell and doing two commercials for an Arizona ban. On 
Falwell himself, who McCain called an "agent of intolerance" only two years ago,
only to eat shit at Falwell's Liberty University this year and now supporting 
teaching the idiot theory of Intelligent Design in schools. McCain opposed 
Bush's tax cuts, but has since voted to make them permanent.

The list goes on and on, making it incredibly clear to any knowledgeable 
observer that John McCain is just another go-along-to-get-along bullshit artist 
-- in other words, a senator. But reporters and pundits don't just avoid the 
subject; they deny it with an irrational certitude. The Washington Post's Harold
Meyerson personified press fealty to McCain in an Op-Ed on the 13th: "McCain's 
position, at least, is sincerely held, as befits a candidate whose calling card 
is his integrity."

That's cute, isn't it? Meyerson offers no explanation or argument as to how he 
determined McCain's sincerity -- there is none -- he just says it is so, and 
you're supposed to buy it. "Integrity" is the long-established meme attached to 
McCain, and intellectually lazy mainstream journos aren't particularly 
interested in breaking new rhetorical ground there.

Some more sophisticated analysts acknowledge McCain's tradition of bullshittery,
suggesting that McCain's call for more troops is a savvy feint, considering the 
unfeasibility of such a plan in the face of depleted troop reserves. Cokie 
Roberts called it "a somewhat convenient position, because he can always say, 
'No one tried to win the war the way that I suggested to win it.'" But I don't 
think so. McCain seemed genuinely pissed that the ISG didn't consider his 
proposal, and I think I know why. The reality is this: John McCain is running 
for president. Just like any other serious candidate, everything McCain says and
does for the next (and the last) two years is calculated to help him win in 
2008. If McCain thought calling for an immediate withdrawal would help his 
chances, he'd do that. Hell, if he thought doing a choreographed dance number on
the senate floor to the tune of "Love Machine" would help his poll numbers, he'd
be working out the steps with Paula Abdul right now. If McCain wants the war to 
intensify, you can bet he thinks it's a good long-term strategy to win -- the 

The idea that the war hurts McCain is just plain dumb. Americans may regret the 
war, but most Republicans still hate the idea of admitting defeat. McCain's 
hawkishness will help him secure the GOP nomination, perhaps the most difficult 
obstacle between him and the White House -- and the reason for all the 
fundamentalist footsy with Falwell. And a still-roiling quagmire in Iraq would 
be huge boon for McCain in a run against soft-on-slaughter Democrats, including 
Hillary Clinton, his most likely opponent.

McCain isn't any more responsible for the war in Iraq than Hillary, for one, so 
the idea of voters punishing him for supporting it makes no sense. And who do 
you think voters will trust to guide the country to an acceptable solution in an
ever-worsening war, the celebrated 'Nam POW or the smarty-pants feminist? 
Hillary has and will continue to talk tough about the war, but she just can't 
win a bloodthirstiness contest against McCain.

By contrast, in the improbable event the Iraq mess is largely over by November 
2008, McCain seems old and irrelevant rather than strong and reassuring. What 
issue does McCain really have without the war? Gay marriage? The ISG 
recommendation to pull out the troops by 2008 completely FUBARs McCain's 
program, and that's why he pulled the Popeye routine on Baker and Hamilton. 
McCain wants this stupid, pointless, sucker's war to drag on, maybe even get 
worse. He needs something to rescue us from. He can't win without it. And hey, 
what's a few thousand more corpses if it means he gets to be president?

Allan Uthman is the editor of the Buffalo Beast.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

Escaping the Matrix website
cyberjournal website  
subscribe cyberjournal list     mailto:•••@••.•••
Posting archives      
  cyberjournal forum  
  Achieving real democracy
  for readers of ETM  
  Community Empowerment
  Blogger made easy