Appearing on Hardball’s “College Tour” today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked about the recent offensive led by the Iraqi government in Basra. Admitting that the performance of Iraqi soldiers was poor (at least 1,000 deserted), McCain claimed the rest of the forces did “pretty good”:
In full disclosure and frankness and candor and straight talk, the Maliki movement to Basra had a very big downside to it. As you know, we saw a thousand police and military desert their posts. But the rest of the military did a pretty good job, did a pretty good job. We did secure the port of Basra. Maybe I’m digging for the pony here.
Reuters reported that Maliki’s “crackdown on militias in the southern oil port of Basra appears to have backfired, exposing the weakness of his army and strengthening his political foes ahead of elections.”
McCain has been “digging for the pony” in Iraq for a quite a while. When asked in April 2007 by conservative bloggers about efforts by Sadr to oppose the surge, McCain predicted Sadr wouldn’t end up opposing U.S. forces — but admitted he may be “digging for the pony.” At the same time, Sadr released a statement urging Iraqis to consider the U.S. their “archenemy” and to “turn all their efforts on American forces.” Subsequently, “hundreds of thousands of Shia protesters…burned and trampled on US flags in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.”
McCain’s constant “digging for the pony” has only created one giant hole.