Brooks: Even If Troop Surge Completely Fails, It Will Help McCain Politically

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is advocating sending up to 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. His plan is opposed by the military’s top generals and supported by just 12 percent of Americans.

Yesterday on the Chris Matthews Show, New York Times columnist David Brooks said that if President Bush takes McCain’s advice and sends more troops, it will help McCain politically — even if the troop surge fails. In that event, Brooks says, McCain will “say with a lot of justice, it’s too late.” Brooks said people will not focus on the results of McCain’s plan but “his conviction.” Watch it:


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MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

Escalation. New signs suggest that President Bush might actually increase the troops in Iraq, a step John McCain has long called for.

Senator JOHN McCAIN: The situation in my view remains serious. It requires us to have an injection of additional troops on the ground in order to bring the situation under control, in order that the political process may proceed.

MATTHEWS: So let’s say it happens. We get more troops into Iraq early next year, but the violence and the killing continue over there. If the troop surge doesn’t turn things around, what would that do to McCain’s political chances?

I was thinking, by the way, of those old Road Runner cartoons where one guy chases the other guy, and then realizes he’s off the cliff. We put it to the Matthews Meter: Would a troop surge actually hurt or help John McCain? By seven to five the Meter says it helps, and sets McCain up to lead the country.

David, you think if Bush moves for more troops, following the Army’s advice, McCain’s on board, in fact, his biggest booster, that’s a doubling down for the bet for both those guys. What does it do to McCain’s future?

Mr. BROOKS: Well, I think people look at his conviction. I mean, if you look at every analysis of the war, every book that’s been written about it, it all comes back to three words: not enough troops. And John McCain has been saying that for three years, and the White House did not listen to him for three years, and people are going to remember that, I think.

MATTHEWS: But if it turns out that more troops don’t do the job, is he disproven.

Mr. BROOKS: Right. Well, not at this late date. I mean, then they’ll just say — and I think he’ll say with a lot of justice, it’s too late. And he said that even this week. One more surge, and then we have to look at a new reality.