Monday, March 17, 2008

McCain in Iraq

Is John McCain building his brand? Or throwing the election to the democrats? The pundits and Sunday morning talk-shows have been talking about how Presidential McCain's visit this week to Iraq looked.

Ultimately, it might work to his advantage to have our military stage the best photo-op a guy could hope for heading into a general election. But I think it's a problem for McCain to stake his entire candidacy on the war in Iraq. There are three reasons.

No one knows what it will be like there by November
We will know about how Gen. Petraeus feels on the subject during his april testimony, but in the mean time he has let some of his feelings be known to the Washington Post. He for the first time publicly pressured the Iraqis to get moving on a diplomatic solution as he has been forced to reduce troop presence in Iraq. Perhaps Petraeus knows something we don't and the lid will only stay on the pot for so long. Suffice to say if there is an upswing in violence prior to the election McCain will have a hard time keeping the surge and the war as a whole popular across the country.

It's the economy, stupid.
Even if Iraq is a bed of roses in November, the economy is likely to be a mess heading into some level of recession. The sub-prime and liquidity problems the large financial institutions face is not going to abide any time soon. Doubling down on a basically unpopular war at a time when houses are being foreclosed on will strike many voters as just as narrow-minded and bull headed as George W. Bush plowing ahead as the country withered.

Don't Show up there with Cheney
This is a minor point, and perhaps really more of a pet-peeve on my part, but don't show up in Iraq with Dick "we'll be greeted as liberators" Cheney in tow. That makes all of your statements about security improvements and correct strategies look about as intelligent as "mission accomplished."

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