Sunday, March 16, 2008

D. Gregory on MTP: McCain's uphill battle

David Gregory thinks McCain has a "difficult argument to make" with respect to Iraq, mostly because the voters are against the war and are "not listening". Yes, blame it on the stupid, recalcitrant electorate. Meet The Press cited polling data showing a majority of voters wanting most troops out by 2009, and a similar majority thinking the war is a lost cause. (This does not entirely jibe with other data from Pew suggesting 53% believe "the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals" in Iraq.)

The full MTP quote as follows (Emphasis added except as noted):
...[McCain] is still going to be tarred as a George Bush Republican. And the proverbial and literal hug that he gave him in 2004 when John McCain was trying to court the conservative wing of the party is going to hurt. His proximity to Bush on the issue of the surge and the war generally - I mean - McCain's got a difficult argument to make, which is: Don't just listen to me supporting the surge and being the (emph. orig.) most stalwart defender of the war and talking about the troops being there for a hundred years. Remember back to when I was opposed to Rumsfeld and I opposed the management of the war. He's asking a lot of the voters, a majority of whom are against this war.
Well, I don't know, David. It looks like you did a pretty good job of describing the argument there. Was that so hard? Makes sense to me. I'm not sure why the voters might not be listening to the deafening silence of the media's non-reportage of the surge's successes. That's a real head scratcher.

David Broder also goofed, citing the misleading characterization of his newspaper's interview with General Petraeus. The outing of this mischaracterization is about two days old.

Broder:
As much as [McCain is] identified with Bush's policy on Iraq, he's even more identified with General Petraeus' operations in Iraq. And Petraeus said in an interview with the Washington Post this week he is very disappointed in the lack of action on the political side by the Iraqi government.
But Petraeus' comments are better interpreted in the context of tempering his positive comments when responding to the direct question, "Do you think enough has been done?"

Of course he's going to amend his original answer of "Sure." It is an entirely uncontroversial fact that satisfactory conditions have not been met. Characterizing Petraeus' remarks as "very disappointed" is a little over-baked to say the least.

The MTP panel went on to surmise that McCain's closeness to Petraeus was a hedge against Bush, and an escape hatch to bail out on the war if Petraeus doesn't see progress. I don't see how the panel reconciles this calculating image of McCain with their rap on McCain as the thousand-year occupier.

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