Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More McCain screw-ups

I am just amazed at how Republican presidential candidate John McCain continues to screw up in this election--McCain can't even open his mouth without screwing up by either lying, misstating facts, or just being completely confused. Let us start with some background news from Countdown with Keith Olbermann on McCain's latest gaffes:

First I want to talk about McCain's "confusion" on the historical timeline between the Anbar Awakening and the U.S. troop surge. Here is the CBS News transcript, with McCain's statement that the surge started the Anbar Awakening:

Couric: Senator McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?

McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.

They were out there. They were protecting these sheiks. We had the Anbar awakening. We now have a government that's effective. We have a legal system that's working, although poorly. And we have progress on all fronts, including an incredible measure of security for the people of Iraq. There will still be attacks. Al Qaeda's not defeated. But the progress has been immense. And to not recognize that, and why it happened, and how it happened, I think is really quite a commentary.

This is a complete, flat-out lie by McCain.

The Anbar Awakening movement started in 2005, when American military commanders approached Sunni sheiks with the proposal of an alliance between U.S. forces and Sunnis to provide security in the Anbar province against al Qaeda insurgents. Consider this March 25, 2007 San Diego Tribune story on the Anbar Awakening:

RAMADI, Iraq – Not long ago it would have been unthinkable: a Sunni sheik allying himself publicly with American forces in a xenophobic city at the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Today, there is no mistaking whose side Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi is on. Outside his walled home, a U.S. tank is on permanent guard beside a clutch of towering date palms and a protective dirt berm.

The 36-year-old sheik is leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in Anbar province. The dramatic shift in alliances may have done more in a few months to ease daily street battles and undercut the insurgency here than American forces have achieved in years with arms.

The American commander responsible for Ramadi, Col. John W. Charlton, said the newly friendly sheiks, combined with an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy and the presence of thousands of new Sunni police on the streets, have helped cut attacks in the city by half in recent months.

In November 2005, American commanders held a breakthrough meeting with top Sunni chiefs in Ramadi, hoping to lure them away from the insurgents' fold. The sheiks responded positively, promising cooperation and men for a police force that was then virtually nonexistent.

But in January 2006 a suicide bomber attacked a police recruiting drive, killing 70 people. Insurgents killed at least four sheiks for cooperating with the Americans, and many others fled.

The killings left the effort in limbo, until a turning point; insurgents killed a prominent sheik last year and refused to let family members bury the body for four days, enraging Sunni tribesmen, said U.S. Lt. Col. Miciotto Johnson, who heads the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment and visits al-Rishawi frequently in western Ramadi.

Al-Rishawi, whose father and three brothers were killed by al-Qaeda assassins, said insurgents were “killing innocent people, anyone suspected of opposing them. They brought us nothing but destruction and we finally said, enough is enough.”

Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September with dozens of Sunni tribes. Many of the new newly friendly leaders are believed to have at least tacitly supported the insurgency in the past, though al-Rishawi said he never did.


His movement, also known as the Anbar Awakening, now counts 41 tribes or sub-tribes from Anbar, though al-Rishawi acknowledges that some groups in the province have yet to join. It's unclear how many that is, or much support the movement really has.

In November 2005, American commanders proposed the alliance with Sunnis, and the Sunnis responded positively to the idea. In January, 2006, suicide bombers started attacking police recruiting drives, killing 70 people. Insurgents also killed four sheiks for cooperating with the Americans. Sheik Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September, 2006, with the cooperation of dozens of Sunni tribes. The Anbar Salvation Council then became known as the Anbar Awakening.

President Bush did not announce his troop surge until January 10, 2007--four months after the Anbar Awakening.

Even Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] stated that the Anbar Awakening took place before the Bush troop surge. According to the Huffington Post, then-Colonel Sean McFarlane described the Anbar Awakening on September 29, 2006:

With respect to the violence between the Sunnis and the al Qaeda -- actually, I would disagree with the assessment that the al Qaeda have the upper hand. That was true earlier this year when some of the sheikhs began to step forward and some of the insurgent groups began to fight against al Qaeda. The insurgent groups, the nationalist groups, were pretty well beaten by al Qaeda.

This is a different phenomena that's going on right now. I think that it's not so much the insurgent groups that are fighting al Qaeda, it's the -- well, it used to be the fence-sitters, the tribal leaders, are stepping forward and cooperating with the Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda, and it's had a very different result. I think al Qaeda has been pushed up against the ropes by this, and now they're finding themselves trapped between the coalition and ISF on the one side, and the people on the other.

McFarlane [phonetic] then states in this PDF report Anbar Awakens: The Tipping Point, that the Anbar Awakening took place, again, in September 2006. From Anbar Awakens:

On 9 September 2006 Sittar organized a tribal council, attended by over 50 sheiks and the brigade commander, at which he declared the “Anbar Awakening” officially underway. The Awakening Council that emerged from the meeting agreed to first drive AQIZ from Ramadi, and then reestablish rule of law and a local government to support the people. The creation of the Awakening Council, combined with the ongoing recruitment of local security forces, began a snowball effect that resulted in a growing number of tribes either openly supporting the Awakening or withdrawing their support from AQIZ.

Bottom line here is that the Anbar Awakening took place four months before President Bush announced his troop surge. In fact, the Anbar Awakening took place even before the first surge of American soldiers even set foot in Iraq. John McCain has lied to the American people. It is simple as that.

Now I want to go to the next McCain screw-up, which is even more outrageous than his Anbar Awakening lie. Americablog picked up this outrageous McCain attack on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's patriotism, saying that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." From YouTube:

Here is the actual quote from The Carpetbagger Report:

“[T]his is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say that I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.”

This is just incredible. Usually, the major political candidates stay above the fray, and let their campaign attack dogs, or the 527 committees fling the mud at their opponents. Just look at what the Swift Boaters did to John Kerry's presidential campaign.

But John McCain decided to forgo the mud, and start flinging crap from the toilet at Obama.

Time Magazine's Joe Klein responded to this latest McCain meltdown:

This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.

Scurrility Update: Readers should note that I said that I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. Smart politicians leave the scurrilous stuff to their aides; in fact, a McCain spokesman expressed these words almost exactly on July 14. There is a reason why politicians who want to be President don't say these sort of things: It isn't presidential. A President exists in the straitjacket of literality. His words mean something. So John McCain has to literally believe that Barack Obama would "rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." I can't imagine that he does. He popped off, out of frustration.

But it is more than just McCain popping off here in frustration. This is a concerted strategy by the McCain campaign to attack Obama's patriotism, to convict him in the political arena of treason. On July 17, 2008, McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann wrote a memo to reporters saying that Barack Obama:

[h]as determined that he would rather lose a war that we are winning than lose an election by alienating his base. This is the reason Obama did not have to wait until his trip to declare his strategy. Iraq is fundamentally a political decision for Barack Obama, not a national security decision.

John McCain has nothing left to campaign on. His economic policy is a continuation of the Bush economic policy of more tax cuts to the rich and more deregulation for Big Business. His chief economic adviser has called Americans a "bunch of whiners," who are suffering from a "mental recession." McCain has mentioned several times that the U.S. recession is "psychological," and that new oil drilling will provide a "psychological" affect on oil prices. McCain's gas tax holiday has been shredded by economists. And now John McCain's signature foreign policy issue, the one that he based his entire presidential campaign on, has been destroyed as Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed Obama's 16-month troop withdrawal plan over McCain's plan to continue the U.S war in Iraq for another 100 years. In one sense, I should not be surprised at how McCain is lashing out like an angry, spoiled, rotten child.

Because John McCain is behaving like an angry, spoiled, rotten child.

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