The New York Times reported this weekend, “Seven years ago, [Sen. John] McCain charmed the news media and the public with his Straight Talk Express bus tour.” In Feb. 2000, Joe Klein wrote a New Yorker article entitled “The Fascinatin’ John McCain.” For Klein, the McCain charm has yet to wear off:
McCain, whether you agree with him or not, has been entirely consistent about the war.
Just because Sen. McCain has called for an increase in troop levels for three years does not mean he has had an “entirely consistent” position on Iraq. Here are just a few recent examples of McCain’s inconsistencies:
– McCain called for sending “another 20,000 troops” to Iraq. He endorsed Bush’s escalation strategy, but later claimed, “I would have liked to have seen more” troops on the ground.
– McCain claimed he “bitterly disagreed” with the Iraq strategy from the beginning, except that he previously said, “We will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”
– McCain was for withdrawing U.S. troops to the border of Iraq if escalation failed, but then later backtracked, saying he would only consider redeployment if “we have the situation under control.”
– McCain wants to establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, but “can’t tell you” what they are.
– McCain said that escalation could not bring about results in “a few months,” but then claimed, “I think in the case of the Iraqi government cooperating and doing what’s necessary, we can know fairly well in a few months.”
To Joe Klein, a record like that is entirely consistent.
More from Greg Sargent.