Prosecuting the war on terror has always required a steely resolve, a heart of courage and a complete disregard for history, facts or anything approaching reality. It is a shame that the Nobel Prize committee can’t cough up a Nobel War prize. John McCain and the neo cons would be shoo ins. Frank Rich of the New York Times explains:
Perhaps the most surreal aspect of our great Afghanistan debate is the Beltway credence given to the ravings of the unrepenant blunderers who dug us into this hole in the first place.
Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.
But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.
To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.
What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.
Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site…
…Americans, meanwhile, want to see the fine print after eight years of fiasco with little accounting. While McCain and company remain frozen where they were in 2001, many of their fellow citizens have learned from the Iraq tragedy. Polls persistently find that the country is skeptical about what should and can be accomplished in Afghanistan. They voted for Obama not least because they wanted a new post-9/11 vision of national security, and they will not again be so easily bullied by the blustering hawks’ doomsday scenarios. That gives our deliberating president both the time and the political space to get this long war’s second act right.
The Holy Scriptures warn us of false messiahs promising “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. However, the Good Book says precious little about folks who receive Nobel Peace prizes when they have no peace accomplishments to merit it. President Obama has been awarded this honor after a mere nine months on the job, with America embroiled in two land wars and, most recently, having just bombed the moon. The event is rich with irony. But our President accepted the award with appropriate humility and understood it as a reminder of what he has yet to be accomplished, rather than a metric of “mission accomplished” achievements to quote his Nobel-prizeless predecessor. Whether Obama’s over-the-top apologetic rhetoric on foreign soil has emboldened terrorists remains to be seen. What is certain is his turning sabre-rattling into multilateral cooperation has at least emboldened our European allies. Which after the last eight years , is worth, at least, an honorable mention.
Okay, nobody has accused Obama of having a shortage of gray matter. But, wow! His first televised interview, he does for Arabic television. And he can say that members of his family are Muslim, and that he grew up in Muslim countries. All the stuff that didn’t play well in West Virginia, gives this guy a leg up in the West Bank. Hopefully, this does more than reduce the flag burnings. Hopefully, it helps reshape the globe. Yes we can.
It was like the millennial New Year. Dancing in the streets. Raising the roof. Tears. Cheers. And that was just Kenya. So I thought it appropriate to give My Apologies presidential political correspondent, Governor Sarah Palin, a moment to discuss the global aspects of this Obama victory:
“You betcha! Gosh-golly, where do I begin? The world is a pretty big place. There’s the lower 48 and Wasilla…and of course Real America. Can I look at a map? Well, you know, the whole darn country of Africa is really excited about this Obama guy. I mean…Continent of Africa … why can’t I remember that geography stuff?…Africa and all its states, like Kenya and Libertaria. And that guy Sarkozy in France…he issued a statement…you know, the real one…not that guy in Canada, the prankster. Boy, that elite, gotcha comedian totally fooled me!!! You know he had that whole French accent and all. Anyway, you know all the countries and those continent things are all real excited…But that Vladmir Putin reared his ugly head…yeah, you betcha…Gosh, saw that one from my front door…But I’ll be keeping an eye on him, don’t you worry. Not to mention that Akmood-the-Dinnerjacket guy. That one gives me the willies. Yup, pretty monumental election…all those purple thumbs…Listen, I’ve got a humdinger of a concession speech they never let me give…maybe on your blog someday…”
As McCain’s campaign drops in the polls, it’s good know that he has growing support from at least one substantial faith community: al-Qaeda. A password-protected al-Qaeda website ecnourages the faithful to support a McCain presidency. He “…would be a faithful son of Bush” who would help al-Qaeda in “exhausting ” America.
So the man who wanted more debates and town hall meetings is trying to postpone his first encounter with Obama. Could it be that his drop in the polls makes McCain want to move the first debate to a more convenient time? Like when Russia is invading another country or when Iran is bombing Israel? The Republicans’ $700-billion bailout of Wall Street certainly is not the best week for the GOP candidate to have to face off the Democrat candidate. And clearly, positioning the delay as putting country first is smart for McCain. But the fact is, this messy bailout business is going to drown out international news for the next many weeks. All of which redounds to Obama’s favor. I mean, has anyone even noticed that North Korea has kicked out weapons inspectors today? It’s the economy and McCain isn’t stupid.
The New York Times has come up with this helpful graphic. I love it!
Oh, not the old dude kowtowing to the base of his party while calling that being a “Maverick.” That speech was a snoozefest. The old coot can’t give a speech to save his life. Move over John, and let Sarah take over. She rocks! No, the American hero I’m talking about is Barack Obama. Tonight he crash-landed behind enemy lines: FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor. It was quite the display of heroism and love of country. O’Reilly may have busted his balls, but he couldn’t break his will. It is clearly the most substantive interrogation of this election. Nicely done, Mr. O’Reilly. If Obama can face down you, he can easily handle Iran.
He thinks Iranians are training Sunni-based al-Qaeda. He thinks that there is trouble on the Iraq/ Pakistan border ( please see map for irony). And now he tells us that a 16-month withdrawal is a pretty good plan (this of course, is Obama’s timetable…excuse me…time HORIZON). So why do we think McCain will keep us safer? I forget.
This was where I thought John McCain might just win this election. As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker came before the US Senate, I thought John is going to look good. Very good. After all, he has just spent the last week on the campaign trail reminding Americans that a precipitous drawn-down of troops would be foolhardy. And now we have Dave Petraeus in those hallowed halls recommending a 45-day halt to the modest drawn-down that the Administration had promised us. McCain was golden. And he certainly looked the part: calm, even-tempered, but tough––a warrior. That was, until he tried to get the General and the Ambassador to talk about the imminent threat of al-Qaeda. Well, a threat, sure. But not the biggest bogeyman in the region. But they are a threat? Sure. Sorta… They were really trying to give McCain the answer he wanted. He was “Mr. Surge,” after all. But McCain would not let go. He keeped on blabbing about al-Qaeda, like it was the key to this war. The word that strikes terror in the heart of John Q. Public. And then, he did it. He called them Shi’a again. Doooh! Solider Johnny fumbles the globe, once more. Not good. Then Senator Clinton steps to the plate. She is cool, articulate and forceful. This is when I start thinking: This may not be where McCain shines, this may be the forum where the junior senator from Illinois is going to look very…um…junior, I think is the word. I bite my lip hard. My palms begin to sweat. Finally, it’s Obama’s turn. No speechifying is going to save the boy tonight. This is where we see if he is truly a match for these two seasoned Senators. And this is where we got to see Obama at his best. No flowery prose. No retrofitting stump speech bullet points. Instead, a respectful, but tenacious, line of questioning concerning the metrics of success. The question that no one has answered for the past five years. A question that few have even asked. And a question that betrayed something I had yet to notice. Obama has actually thought this thing through. He actually appears to have a plan. A messy one, no doubt. But a plan, nonetheless. And it was pretty clear that this big-eared rookie had just won the day.
Peggy Noonan had it right. John McCain could actually be a quite formidable candidate if he would simply think before he speaks. The latest example of his propensity to just blurt things out was this Friday, when he told the crowd of supporters that he was afraid that al-Qaeda may be planning new attacks to sway this election. This would be classic GOP fear-mongering except that he was implying two very curious thoughts. The first is that the terrorists are pulling for the Democrats. This is very curious, given the main reason we haven’t had a terrorist attack on US soil since 9-11, is that the current President has made killing Americans infinitely easier. He has put them within spitting distance. Thank you, Mr. Bush. You’ve saved al-Qaeda the trip. He has also helped increased recruitment for the terrorist cause by putting boots on the ground on sacred Islamic soil. Which, for those who actually have been paying attention, is the real reason that Osama bin Laden hates the US. We keep desecrating their land with our military bases. So, in fact, the military policies of the Republicans have proven a boon to terrorism. So I don’t see Osama pulling for the Democrats. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The second implication in Senator McCain’s remarks is that a terrorist attack on America would somehow hurt his bid for Commander-In-Chief. This is almost laughable. Such a tragedy would play right into his hawkish strengths! It would be exactly the thing that would make American’s pull the McCain lever. So, on second thought, maybe this isn’t an example of McCain shooting from the lip. Maybe this guy is a Rovian genius! Maybe Peggy has pegged the old boy all wrong.
San Antonio televangelist John Hagee has declared that John McCain is God’s man. You see Hagee, who can’t wait until we go to war with Iran and get this Armageddon thing cranked up in earnest, feels McCain has the right family values. Blowing things up and what not. Of course, Johnny Mac was happy to get the endorsement. Maybe he’ll make Hagee Secretary of Defense. One potential problem: Apparently, in Hagee’s eschatology this nasty Tribulation business will all be over in just 7 years. Which is a far cry shorter than the one-hundred years John McCain has been promising. Lord, I love the GOP! Praise God and pass the nuclear weapons.
One Democratic candidate has insisted this presidential campaign is not about race or gender. The other has insisted that it very much is. And her palpable insinuation is, “Girls, you know what you must do.” The results have been pretty predictable. The candidate who reaches across the racial chasm, across the gender gap and across party and regional lines is starting to see that he can attract voters of all races, all genders, all ages and all stripes. Today in Virginia exit polling, he’s even shown that he can reach that most narrow-minded and stubborn of niches: the left wing female baby boomer. The group who have fought their whole life for equal opportunity, equal pay and a sort of equal consequences for reproductive activities. The group who came into this political cycle believing that the 2008 election was about crashing through the glass ceiling and putting someone with ovaries in the Oval Office. But then something happened. These feminist stalwarts––these pioneers of female liberation–– got over the initial euphoria, the momentary giddiness, of knowing they had a bona fide, qualified, sure-thing candidate and looked at a bigger world torn apart by sectarian hatred and a country torn apart by partisan bickering. They looked at how a planet where every group thinks only in terms of their own race, their own clan, their own class and their own creed ultimately implodes upon itself. And maybe they recognized that it is that sort of thinking that is root of the problem. And certainly not the solution. And perhaps, they looked at the last seven years of a narrow-minded administration and realized that this is not the time for more narrow thinking and mindless, lockstep solidarity. It is time that all good women do what all good women have always done best: Set aside their personal agenda and effect the greater good.
After 7 years of a mangled foreign policy that plays like a bad Michael Bay movie––an action-packed extravaganza full of mustachioed villains, exploding Humvees and Clint Eastwood catch phrases: “Wanted dead or alive;” “Bring it on;” “Mission accomplished”––it is little wonder that the emerging GOP front runner is a decorated Vietnam war hero. Or that his wartime heroics consisted chiefly of doing hard time in a Viet Cong POW camp. He’s also a bit of a hot head. Which you’ve gotta love. Our very own Rambo. Maybe that’s why Senator McCain is Sylvester Stallone’s pick for Commander-in-chief. Maybe, that’s why TV action hero Chuck Norris is Huckabee’s Hollywood sidekick. Or why, actor Fred Thompson treated his run for the oval office like it was just another casting call. Look tough. Talk tough. Be tough. Cue the explosives. Bring up the music. Fade to black.