All of a Sudden, Straight Talk Express Is on the Low Road

Brian, in comments on my last post, said John McCain supporters don't use computers or read The Hill. Like many of our readers he is supporting Barack Obama and provides strong pushback whenever I compliment McCain or criticize Obama. As the blog's in-house, nonpartisan analyst, everybody knows I have no dog in this fight, that I have complimented and criticized both candidates and both campaigns, and that I am happy to remain unpopular in both parties. However, I know some people supporting McCain do own computers, and even have Internet access, so I need not worry that in beating up on him today I am only preaching to an Obama-friendly choir.

In a matter of days McCain has swerved from defending his judgment on the Iraq troop surge, and touting his willingness to torpedo his political prospects because of it, to accusing Obama of cynical political positioning on the war. Let's make clear that McCain isn't questioning Obama's judgments, he is accusing him outright of using the issue as well as the troops to win himself the big job.

Not only did McCain say Obama's withdrawal plan was crafted “in order to help get him the nomination of his party,” but that he is “not prepared to see the sacrifice of so many brave young Americans lost because Sen. Obama just views this war as another political issue with which he can change positions.”

Regardless of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable, or the Bush administration's sudden comfort with a time “horizon” for withdrawal, McCain was proven right on the surge stabilizing Iraq and allowing space for political reconciliation. Things aren't perfect over there, but an 80 percent reduction in violence and 15 of 18 political benchmarks being met certainly didn't seem likely when Obama opposed the surge. Is being right no longer enough for McCain?

McCain's newest television commercial blasts Obama for failing to visit wounded soldiers in Germany but making time to go to the gym, when it is clear that someone from the campaign — if not McCain himself — would have excoriated Obama for visiting injured troops as a political stunt had he gone ahead and made the visit.

McCain chose not to attack his opponents like this in the primary; he put his head down and stuck to his own message, even as Mitt Romney blasted away at him. He promised to be civil and honorable, but accusing Obama of jeopardizing young men’s and women's lives for politics is neither.


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