It is obvious that the Democrats are planning to run against McCain by linking him as tightly as possible with President Bush, the instigator of the Iraq war and the captain of a seriously shaky economy.With Bush's approval rating at a new low, 31 percent, John McCain continues to sound like John McBush. But I'm sorry Mr Broder, this should come as no surprise - John McCain above all else loves war and if Iraq were to stabilize politically there would be no reason for the US to stay there. Your White Knight is not a good guy after all and in fact he's one of the most dangerous people we could have in the Oval Office in coming years.
As a member of the minority party in a largely dysfunctional Senate, there is little McCain can do to rescue the economy. But the Baghdad visit offered him a chance to deal with the other big barrier to his election -- his close identification with Bush's policies in a war now into its sixth wearying year.
Petraeus told Barr that he and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker had "repeatedly noted that it's crucial that the Iraqis exploit the opportunities that we and our Iraqi counterparts have fought so hard to provide them."
That clearly opened the door for McCain, as a prospective president, to signal to the government of Nouri al-Maliki that his patience with the political impasse is not inexhaustible.
Bush and Maliki have both called those steps vital benchmarks, but Bush has refused to threaten any consequences for Iraqi obduracy. If McCain had told Maliki that he cannot continue to dither, he could have accomplished two important goals.
Because Clinton and Obama have publicly committed to a quick start in reducing U.S. combat forces in Iraq if either becomes president, a warning shot from McCain -- even without a timetable -- would put the Iraqis on notice that the next president would not be as accommodating as Bush.
And politically, it would send a dramatic message that McCain is not in lock step with Bush, while once again aligning him with Petraeus.
So far as I can judge from the few public statements McCain uttered while in Baghdad, the senator said no such thing.
When CNN's John King asked him during his visit to comment on Petraeus's "frustration with the pace of political progress," McCain gave a bland response.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
David Broder's column this morning has a tone of sadness and disappointment. Broder thinks that McCain should have used his trip to the mid east to distance himself from George Bush but instead it was more stay the course and actually demonstrated that he is just as clueless as Bush himself.