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F-U Troop

F-U TroopWell, if they stop fighting them there, then they’ll have to fight them here, and no one wants that.

John McCain won’t win himself many overseas absentee votes with any more declarations like he made today. Speaking with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today, Senator McCain was asked by Lauer “If (the war) is working, Senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?”

“No, but that’s not too important.”

You could make the case the McCain bumbled Lauer’s question, and the frothing liberal media elite took his misstatement out of context. For the record, he went on to say that, “What’s important is 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. … But the key to it is we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way.”

Aww, hell. I really wanted to write something breezy and amusing tonight. I give it my all trying to find a yuk if it’s there, but I can’t find a whole lot of knee-slaps in, “Sorry about this retarded war, and your fourth or fifth or sixth or seventh tour of duty, but you’re going to be there for awhile, so just suck it up and deal with it. At least you’ve got your boys in the foxhole with you. Misery loves company, right?”

The Senator’s war strategy notwithstanding, Americans are in harm’s way, right now, and we aren’t getting much of a return on the lives and money we’re ponying up to keep them there. We’re getting dead kids, dismemberment, suicides, brain injuries, and rampant PTSD, and Iraq is just as big a mess as when the British tried to tame it in the early 1920s. And the bad dude we went there for is almost eighteen months dead, and the Iraqis would like us to pack our rucksacks and go, though they’re saying it increasingly less polite terms.

We’re currently knee-deep in a mess of a war launched by a handful of men who’ve only gotten close to combat by watching Saving Private Ryan on DVD. It’s not forgivable, but it’s understandable that they’d have no comprehension at what the cost of war is. John McCain, as everyone knows, spent well over five years in captivity in Vietnam, many years more than he needed to stay after he was offered early release when his captors realized that his father was an Admiral in the United States Navy, an offer McCain refused because he didn’t want to leave his fellow captives behind by taking what he saw was an unfair release. He stayed, was tortured, and while he was gone, his patiently waiting wife suffered a horrible car accident in his absence. John McCain returned to the U.S. almost six years after his capture with a mane of hair gone prematurely white, a permanently damaged right arm that he couldn’t raise above his shoulders, and a former beauty queen wife who was, literally, a good five inches shorter afterwards thanks to a number of operations where surgeons had to sheer away large chunks of her shattered bone just to save her legs.

You would think, then, John McCain might have a greater sensitivity to the personal toll, on themselves and their families, of men sent off to war for years on end. Before he sold his soul in the pursuit of the Presidency, McCain appeared to have some degree of empathy for America’s soldiers fighting abroad, and even launched his first general election ad buy entitled, “I Hate War.”

Just because he hates war, it doesn’t mean he likes you.

What’s utterly confounding is that he’s fighting for the votes of an electorate that is at least 64% against the Iraq War. That would be against, as in “we don’t want to be there.” In other words, the ones to whom it does matter if the troops come home or not. My head is still reeling from trying to keep up with Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign math, but last I checked by any calculation, if you lose with anything approaching 64%, you lose.

This is really mind-boggling. He’s eight ways from Sunday on every position he approaches, and it inflicts whiplash trying to follow it all. As Senator John Kerry said of McCain’s latest befuddlement, “It’s like he’s having a discussion with himself trying to decide where he stands.”

He insists he still has the troops’ best interests at heart, and that’s why he skipped the vote on Jim Webb’s GI Bill for the 21st Century, in favor of his own GI Bill. Last scan of the horizon, that bill still hadn’t materialized, but in all fairness the Senator has had his hands full running his own damage control.

It’s going to be a long, bumpy, embarrassing five months. Los Angeles Timesreporter Robert Scheer was on the radio this morning discussing his new book,The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11. He talked of a book reading at a retirement community and commenting to his audience that, “I’m 72, and I don’t think I have any business running for President.” His day-room audience heartily concurred.

There’s young 72, there’s old 72, and there’s John McCain’s 72, which is what he would be on Election Day if the country decides that he’s our best choice for President Of The United States. He’s a comparatively spry 71 and he’s already having an overwhelming avalanche of senior moments.

I don’t want to play the age card, but John McCain is his own Life-Alert commercial. This isn’t the man I seriously entertained voting for ten years ago when he first stated talking about a White House run. And 72 doesn’t have to be old–my mother is still a force unto herself at the age of 78, and until Mike Wallace’s recent health issues, there isn’t a member of the original 60 Minutesteam I would have thrown down with.

If he didn’t have his handler, Senator Lieberman, there to set him straight, this could all get very awkward.

Veeps2012

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