The GOP are victims to both the political and military success of the surge (and the Awakenings movements, which strangely doesn't get as much mention in speeches by Republican candidates these days.) It served to negate the increasingly negative impact the war was having on public opinion, only to leave most Americans wondering why we're still even there. Hence McCain's number one qualification-his rightness on the war-is now at best irrelevant, and at worst a drawback.
Friday, October 03, 2008
And so were we, and countless others. Although it seems intuitive that the recent successes in calming Iraq would work in the favor of the candidate who was one of the greatest proponents of the surge, that has not proved to be the case. As Glenn Greenwald noted back in March, the American public still strongly favored withdrawal even as things were beginning to look up in Iraq. That attitude has only solidified, especially in the wake of recent developments such as the security agreement and Maliki timeline for withdrawal that closely mirrors Obama's own timeline for withdrawal. Consequently, instead of proving to be a boon to the GOP and McCain in particular, Iraq now hangs like a lead weight around their neck. For one, most of the American public widely perceives the war in Iraq to be the GOP's war, despite some bi-partisan support in the months leading to the war, because the GOP has been the war's constant champion and because GOP candidates have repeatedly run on the war, from the Presidential race on down to House races from 2004 to the present. Two, the lies and deceit that proceeded the run-up to the war has permanently damaged GOP credibility on the war. Americans are generally tired of the war and, as Greenwald demonstrates with various polling data, the fact that conflict has calmed considerably doesn't change that fact. The general attitude seems to be that merely managing to get ours and the Iraqi people's collective nuts out of the fire (for now at least) doesn't change the fact that it was a mistake to invade in the first place (the same as not getting killed when you drive your car over a cliff doesn't change the fact that you shouldn't drive your car over a cliff.) Similarly, Americans still generally support a withdrawal from Iraq. In fact, the GOP finds itself between a rock and a hard place; as the war worsened people began to question why our troops should die in such numbers in an intractable conflict. As the war has calmed, people are now asking why our troops still need to be there. Bringing up the war, especially in the manner that McCain and Palin do ("white flag of surrender") only backfires, as many Americans who harbor a legitimate belief that we should leave Iraq, but who don't consider themselves liberals or Democrats, question why McCain still insists we must be willing to stay in Iraq regardless of recent developments on the ground.