Mr. McCain, the likely Republican nominee for president, previewed a possible general election contest with Mr. Obama, the Democratic front-runner. Seizing on a comment from Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Mr. McCain said that Mr. Obama’s plan to withdraw American troops rapidly from Iraq would leave the country in the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
In that debate, Mr. Obama had said in response to a hypothetical question that although he intended to withdraw American forces as rapidly as possible, he reserved the right to send troops back in “if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq.”
Mr. McCain pounced on the remark. “I have some news,” he said at a town-hall-style meeting in Tyler, Tex. “Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It’s called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq.’ My friends, if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base. They’d be taking a country, and I’m not going to allow that to happen.”
For far too long the Democrats have allowed the GOP to demagogue on this subject, controlling the conversation and twisting it beyond the normal limits of space and time. In Obama, we finally have somebody with a clear, distinct record of opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning, and he fired back the way these talking points should have been answered all along.
Mr. Obama, campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, responded soon after. “I have some news for John McCain,” Mr. Obama said at a large rally at Ohio State University. “There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.”
The article goes on to discuss the origins of "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" which is composed largely of local dissidents under foreign leadership. More to the point, it most certainly formed after (and in response to) the U.S. invasion. And this is precisely the debate we need to have shoved in the faces of American voters from now until November. I want to see Obama keep John McCain talking about Iraq every single day. I want to see McCain's smiling face on the cover of every newspaper with a quote using "Iraq" in the first sentence. I want to see footage of him on the evening news each and every night talking about Iraq.
And when there happens to be a lull in the conversation, I want to have Obama getting McCain to talk about NAFTA and "free trade" and how good it's been for American jobs and the wealth of the middle class. And that will lead quite nicely into keeping John McCain talking about the economy - about how important it is to keep the Bush tax cuts in place because they've led us to this great economy. (Strong and getting stronger!)
Enough nuanced conversations about which 13 people won't get health care coverage under either Hillary or Barack's health care plans. These are the conversations we need to make sure the candidates are having, loud and clear and in full view of the voters. Then, in November, we can go count the totals and we'll see which direction the public really wants our nation to go in.