McCainblogger Mike Goldfarb complains that criticisms of McCain’s “not too important when the troops come home” gaffe lack context.
Okay, here’s the complete exchange from the Today show:
MATT LAUER: If it [the surge] is working, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
MCCAIN: No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany, that’s all fine. American casualties, and the ability to withdraw. We will be able to withdraw, General Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are, but the key to it is that we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way, and that way they will be safe, and serve our country, and come home with honor, in victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama’s proposal would have done. And I’m proud of them, and they’re doing a great job, and we are succeeding, and it’s fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn’t realize that.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s the lack of context that’s got Goldfarb upset, I think it’s that people are no longer choosing to interpret McCain’s incoherent answers in the most charitable way possible.
Over the past year, McCain has been all over the place on the troop presence question. First, he said South Korea was a good model for Iraq. Then he didn’t think so. Then he thought so again. Then in May he decided to split the difference, advocating “a security arrangement that may or may not be the same kind of thing we have with South — with Korea.” Straight talk, indeed.
And, as always, left out of any of McCain’s various formulae for how long the American military should remain in Iraq is any serious consideration of what the Iraqi people themselves think about how long the American military should remain in Iraq. A number of stories over the past few weeks, including an excellent one in this morning’s Washington Post strongly indicate that they’re just not that into it.