Monday, August 18, 2008

Bluff and Bluster

John McCain certainly was decisive at the forum hosted by Reverend Rick Warren of Saddleback Church on Saturday evening, August 16. He repeated his talking points with evident conviction, though as befits McCain, he may completely contradict those points, or claim he never made them, within days.

As he has throughout his campaign to gain the Repub nomination for President, McCain tried (and probably succeeded) to convince his audience that he is determined to capture Osama bin Laden. He issues the same vow repeatedly. He was asked:

How about the issue of evil? I asked this of your rival in the previous thing. Does evil exist and if so, should we ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it or defeat it?

He responded:

Defeat it. Couple points, one, if I'm President of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that and I know how to do that.

A little reality check. Here is a portion of a 7/6/08 posting of talk-show host and columnist Michael Smerconish, for whom the issue of terrorists operating out of Pakistan is a paramount issue:

To be sure, the United States should consult Pakistan about such actionable intelligence, Obama told me, but “we shouldn’t need permission to go after folks that killed 3,000 Americans. That’s part of the reason that I’ve been a critic from the start of the war in Iraq. . . . I felt we had a war that we had not finished".....We spoke again April 21. I asked Obama if he was prepared to stop writing the monthly check to Pakistan - payments now exceeding $10 billion. His reply: “Absolutely. [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf was receiving billions of dollars and not doing much with it.

On June 16, I asked John McCain about Obama’s willingness to take action where Pakistan would not.... (and he answered in part) “. . . We have to have the cooperation of Pakistan in order to have these operations succeed,” McCain said. “. . . [I]f you alienate Pakistan, and it turns into an anti-American government, then you will have much greater difficulties.”

This is nothing new. On August 1, 2007- as he did later in debate- the Illinois senator explained "if we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and (Pakistan) president Musharraf won't act, we will." McCain criticized Obama's argument. But this is telling: When Smerconish told McCain that because of this one issue he might vote for the Democratic presidential candidate "for the first time in my life," the Arizona senator replied "Well, then I tell you, my seeking the support of the American people, frankly, is over a lot more issues than that but I understand how important it is to you.”

That's right. This is the guy who admits that economics is not his strong suit but whom the media claim is some sort of foreign policy sage. And he is suggesting the American voter should consider overlooking his position on terrorism emanating from the Persian Gulf. Which raises two questions about John McCain: 1) If he is willing to follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell," why not to Pakistan? and 2) If not national defense, what possible reason is there to vote for him?

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