A couple of days ago, Noam Scheiber noted that it seems strange for John McCain to be so eager to talk about Iraq considering that Iraq is a horribly unpopular fiasco, the issue on which he’s most closely associated with the horribly unpopular incumbent Republican administration. Noam thought it might reflect a baseline lack of adequate cynicism on McCain’s part:
My hunch is that McCain really wants to debate Iraq–he really, truly thinks it’s the most important issue facing the country, and thinks he can persuade people on the merits–and so his political advisers are doing the best they can with it. I guess I respect that on some level. And, politically, it does reinforce his truth-teller, “I’d rather lose an election than lose a war” image. But, assuming Obama is able to establish a minimum level of national security credibility, which I think he will, McCain may be making a strategic mistake.
I mean, I suppose McCain does think that stuff, but honestly what else is he supposed to talk about? I don’t think it would serve the candidate well to talk about issues he doesn’t care about or doesn’t know anything about. And as best I can tell, that’s, um, all the issues. But even though a clear majority of the American people recognizes that endless war in Iraq is a bad idea, a large swathe of elites agree with McCain’s view that there’s no number of American deaths that would be too many to try to spare elites from the embarrassment of admitting that Iraq’s been a failure. This doesn’t seem all that promising to me as a campaign strategy, but it’s more promising than tired health care mumbo jumbo that McCain himself doesn’t seem interested in.