Yesterday on CNN, host Kiran Chetry suggested to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that he’s been unfairly “painted as being a huge supporter of the president’s Iraq strategy. Is that an accurate portrayal?” she asked.
McCain responded that “life isn’t fair” because, in reality, he’s been “the greatest critic of the initial four years” of war:
It’s entertaining, in that I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three and a half years. I came back from my first trip to Iraq and said, This is going to fail. We’ve got to change the strategy to the one we’re using now. But life isn’t fair.
The “greatest critic” who claimed the war would “fail”? Nobody heard that from McCain when he was busy campaigning for Bush’s reelection in 2004 and praising the President’s leadership. Here’s a sampling of what the “greatest critic” of the war was telling us in the months and years after the invasion:
“But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” [NBC, 3/20/03]
“It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” [ABC, 4/9/03]
“There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shiahs. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC, 4/23/03]
“This is a mission accomplished. They know how much influence Saddam Hussein had on the Iraqi people, how much more difficult it made to get their cooperation.” [This Week, ABC, 12/14/03]
“I’m confident we’re on the right course.” [ABC News, 3/7/04]
“I think the initial phases of it were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise.” [CBS, 10/31/04]
“I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]
UPDATE: Atrios writes, “Even before the war, ‘war critics’ were almost entirely limited to those who criticized the timing, or the degree to which the UN or international community generally was on board. That was the respectable position. Just saying ‘stop!’ was not.”
CHETRY: It seems you’ve been painted as being a huge supporter of the president’s Iraq strategy. Is that an inaccurate portrayal?
MCCAIN: It’s entertaining, in that I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three and a half years. I came back from my first trip to Iraq and said, This is going to fail. We’ve got to change the strategy to the one we’re using now. But life isn’t fair.
But I do believe that this general, who will report back in the middle of September, as you know, and this strategy is succeeding.