Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WAVING THE WHITE FLAG....Here in the leftosphere we're so consumed with the Democratic primary that occasionally we forget to look in on our good friends who are running for the Republican nomination. But tempers are definitely fraying over there. It started when Mr. Straight Talk decided to trash Mitt Romney for wanting to "wave a white flag" in Iraq:

"If we surrender and wave a white flag like Senator Clinton wants to do and withdraw as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos," Mr. McCain said to reporters in Fort Myers on Saturday morning.

At a town-hall-style meeting later in Sun City Center, a retirement community, Mr. McCain reiterated his accusation.

"My friends, I was there — he said he wanted a timetable for withdrawal," Mr. McCain said.

Romney, of course, went ballistic — though it's hard to say which offended him more, the "white flag" comment or the comparison to Hillary. McCain claims that Romney's offending words came last April in an interview with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America:

MS. ROBERTS: ....Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that — the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement....

MS. ROBERTS: So, private. You wouldn't do it publicly? Because the president has said flat out that he will veto anything the Congress passes about a timetable for troop withdrawals. As president, would you do the same?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, of course. Can you imagine a setting where during the Second World War we said to the Germans, gee, if we haven't reached the Rhine by this date, why, we'll go home, or if we haven't gotten this accomplished we'll pull up and leave?

If this is McCain's evidence he seems pretty clearly full of shit to me, and just as clearly unconcerned about it. But Mike Huckabee is defending him (angling for a VP spot?), as well as various other McCain surrogates, so it's game on over in GOP land. Accusing someone of being insufficiently warlike is about as bad in Republican quarters as race baiting is in Democratic quarters, so it looks like pretty much everyone has decided that late January is the right time for the serious mudslinging to begin.

And Rudy? He's just slogging along in the background and says he's going to try to stay positive. Good luck with that, Mr. Mayor.

Kevin Drum 11:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

They're all Republicans. Ignore them and let them burn in hell.

Posted by: Anon on January 27, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

But if we don't fight the Republicans over there, we'll be battling them over here.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

If McCain calls me his 'friend' again, I'm gonna slap a sexual harassment suit on his withered ass.

Posted by: lampwick on January 28, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

But it must be true, Kevin! After all, McCain's bus is called the "Straight Talk Express" and bus names don't lie!

(chuckle chuckle - oh wait, it's not actually a joke because this how the press actually thinks!)

The press continues to fawn over McCain, perpetuate his 'straight talking' reputation, and give him a free pass on even demonstrably false statements like this.

Given how badly he was abused by the Bush campaign (and the GOP leadership as a whole since), you can almost understand why he gets a free pass. But then again, is this turnabout really 'fair play' to McCain or just your garden variety 'hypocrisy'? I'd say the latter.

And as much as I favor Obama over Clinton, I'd have to say that the press (not to mention the Republicans as a whole) seem to have simply picked up where they left off with all of the "Clintons are untrustworthy and dirty politicians" stereotypes. Which isn't to say it isn't true of the Clintons, just that it seems conspicuous how comfortable the press is with repeating those stereotypes of the Clintons but less so with the other candidates (like McCain) who are every bit as deserving of the "dirty/dishonest" labels.

Posted by: Augustus on January 28, 2008 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Hell is definitely a red state.

Posted by: lampwick on January 28, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

PS: When Bill Clinton was in office, McCain wanted US troops out of Somalia and Haiti immediately, with no qualifications or concerns about whether the missions had succeeded.

1994 - The right course of action is to make preparations as quickly as possible to bring our people home. It does not mean as soon as order is restored to Haiti, it doesn't mean as soon as Democracy is flourishing in Haiti, it doesn't mean as soon as we've established a viable nation in Haiti, as soon as possible means as soon as we can get out of Haiti without losing any American lives.

1993 Date certain, Mr. President, are not the criteria here. What's the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we don't do that, and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured, because we stayed too long, longer than necessary, then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home as quickly and safely as possible.

How hard is it for the mainstream press - or debate moderators - to note the double-standards here?

I wouldn't be surprised if there were similarly conflicting quotes made about Clinton's involvement in the Former Yugoslavia (Trent Lott said our involvement there had broken the US military even though the number of US ground deaths consisted of a grand total of none. Zero).

Posted by: Augustus on January 28, 2008 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

PS: When Bill Clinton was in office, McCain wanted US troops out of Somalia and Haiti immediately, with no qualifications or concerns about whether the missions had succeeded.

Yes, but that's different, because unlike Somalia and Haiti, Iraq has no history of ethnic or religious strife.

Posted by: phleabo on January 28, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Just as a reminder, Lott, DeLay & co. were spouting that they supported the troops, but didn't support the mission.

To be a Republicam, one must be memory challenged.

Posted by: natural cynic on January 28, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2008/01/commenting.html

I cannot make anyone stop responding to pointless or nuisance comments. You have to want to restrain yourself, because you understand that the only way to get rid of them is to fail to give them the attention they want. A "troll" is not just someone whose comments you disagree with, or even just a nasty or badly-worded comment. A troll is someone who does not, under any possible set of circumstances, care what you think about him or his comments. He merely wants attention. Negative attention will do. The more you disagree with him, the more he is able to tell himself that he is persecuted and victimized or the only voice of reason or one of the elite few who has the God's-eye view of the world or whatever his current delusion is. If he isn't merely a narcissist who thrives on feeling attacked, he's just some putz who enjoys irritating other people. Therefore, you "feed" the troll by paying any attention to him at all. It does not matter what you say in response. Any response to a troll just encourages the troll.

Besides classic trolls, we have a few resident long-winded bores who believe that the rest of us have never been exposed to some trite, shallow, bombastic rant they just heard on the radio or read in Reader's Digest or saw in a vision, and feel compelled to share with the rest of us. These people lack any possible sense of context or audience; they are incapable of noticing that the bulk of our commenting community has been exposed to the world for a while now and is not interested in any comment that starts "there is one simple answer to this the rest of you aren't getting." It does you no good to respond to this type either; they'll just re-write the same comment again, at the same length, saying the same thing, until you "get it." They are bores with no self-awareness. The cool thing about the internet is that you can just scroll down to the next comment without being "rude." So take advantage of the medium.

Posted by: anonymous on January 28, 2008 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

When Bill Clinton was in office, McCain wanted US troops out of Somalia and Haiti immediately, with no qualifications or concerns about whether the missions had succeeded.

That's probably because he was petrified about what Bill might do to all the black people over there.

Posted by: B on January 28, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

I'm positive Rudy is going to lose, does that count?

Posted by: J. Michael Neal on January 28, 2008 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Are you ready for McCain's outreach director?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i7dyp_nK_Q

Posted by: Luther on January 28, 2008 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

McCain Warns:"There Will be other Wars"

part of his straight talk to help motivate his base:

http://tinyurl.com/23qxlv

from over at the huffington.post with a video

Posted by: Dirk on January 28, 2008 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

I would bet that there are a
lot of Republicans who would like to hear some talk of benchmarks and a road map for getting out of the morass in Iraq.

Posted by: bob h on January 28, 2008 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

I well remember when Mitt Romney said this:

Mr. President, can anyone seriously argue that another 6 months of United States forces in harm’s way means the difference between peace and prosperity in Iraq and war and starvation there? Is that very dim prospect worth one more American life? No, it is not.

Oh, excuse, me, that wasn't Romney -- it was actually McCain, speaking on the Senate floor in October 1993, and instead of talking about Iraq he was talking about Somalia. It seems that McCain's willingness to wave the white flag varies inversely with whether a Democrat or a Republican sits in the Oval Office....

Posted by: Stefan on January 28, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

More from Gigolo John McCain's valiant defense of cutting and running back in 1993:

There is no reason for the United States of America to remain in Somalia. The American people want them home, I believe the majority of Congress wants them home, and to set an artificial date of March 31 or even February 1, in my view, is not acceptable. The criteria should be to bring them home as rapidly and safely as possible, an evolution which I think could be completed in a matter of weeks. Our continued military presence in Somalia allows another situation to arise which could then lead to the wounding, killing or capture of American fighting men and women. We should do all in our power to avoid that.

....Dates certain, Mr. President, are not the criteria here. What is the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we do not do that and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured because we stay too long--longer than necessary--then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible. . . .

I know that this debate is going to go on this afternoon and I have a lot more to say, but the argument that somehow the United States would suffer a loss to our prestige and our viability, as far as the No. 1 superpower in the world, I think is baloney. The fact is, we won the cold war. The fact is, we won the Persian Gulf conflict. And the fact is that the United States is still the only major world superpower.

I can tell you what will erode our prestige. I can tell you what will hurt our viability as the world's superpower, and that is if we enmesh ourselves in a drawn-out situation which entails the loss of American lives, more debacles like the one we saw with the failed mission to capture Aideed's lieutenants, using American forces, and that then will be what hurts our prestige.

We suffered a terrible tragedy in Beirut, Mr. President; 240 young marines lost their lives, but we got out. Now is the time for us to get out of Somalia as rapidly and as promptly and as safely as possible....

Posted by: Stefan on January 28, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Now that McCain tells me that Hillary wants to wave a white flag and withdraw from Iraq, I feel much, much better about her candidacy.

Posted by: rea on January 28, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

How hard is it for the mainstream press - or debate moderators - to note the double-standards here?

Very hard indeed. It would involve five minutes worth of research on Google. While Augustus and I obviously have the time to do that, one can't obviously expect busy, hard working professional journalists to drop everything they're doing just to engage in some basic research in order to provide their readers with facts and context.

Posted by: Stefan on January 28, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Here in the leftosphere

I am unfamiliar with leftist opinion coming from Democratic supporters in any media. Most Republican moderates, also known as Democrats, cannot accurately be called leftist.

Posted by: Brojo on January 28, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for printing the whole quote in context. What has McCain feeling righteous about it is that Plastic Mitt was trying to have it both ways. Remember very few people thought the surge would work back then so Mitt was trying to be, well, Clintonian with his answer; on both sides of the issue rather than unequivocally supporting the surge. McCain thinks this ties into Mitt's flipflop vulnerablity and is trying to press it now.

Posted by: buky on January 28, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Oh come on. We all know there is a big difference between Somalia and Iraq, and it is not the party of the President who invaded.

It is oil. I know we can't say that and we need to pretend it is some BS like "they hate us for our freedom" but we all know that is the difference.

We just don't want to think about it while we drive to/from work.

Posted by: Tripp on January 28, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Lampwick,

If McCain calls me his 'friend' again, I'm gonna slap a sexual harassment suit on his withered ass.

Would you prefer "little buddies?"

Posted by: Tripp on January 28, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

McCain demonstrates again that he's a stellar graduate of the Rovian School of Fecal Propaganda. Expect him to fling more. "Straight talk," indeed.

Posted by: CT on January 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

In the meantime, 5 more killed for Bush's ego while More of the Same McCain cheers.

Five US soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the US military has said.
A patrol that was hit in the explosion then came under small arms fire before US and Iraqi forces secured the area, Reuters news agency reports...

Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

"And Rudy? He's just slogging along in the background and says he's going to try to stay positive."

The possible end of this fellow's presidential ambitions is the most welcome political news in years.

(But you thought that Giuliani fellow's candidacy was a sure thing Linus. He was always doomed by his views on social issues.)

Yes: I thought he was one of the two most talented candidates in the race on either side (along with Obama who is probably too young); I still do. (And I think he's an arrogant, petty man with a scary authoritarian streak.) I'm also not sure the fact he is pro-choice (if effectively supporting the overturning of Roe v Wade even qualifies as being pro-choice) is what has possibly doomed him. You'll recall that he was the national front runner in more or less every poll for months.

(The more they got to know him the less they liked him Linus.)

Is that the case or is it that he didn't spend enough time getting to know voters in the early primary states? If Rudy goes down in flames in Florida and on Super Tuesday maybe there is a lesson. Maybe it's as simple as hard work pays off and sloth doesn't.

Posted by: Linus on January 28, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Nine Eleven! 9/11!!!!

Posted by: Rudy Giuliani on January 28, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo
Too true. Pretending the "Democratic" Party offers any real alternative to the way things have been going ignores a lack of any demonstrated appetite for doing so : even if it only involved sitting on their hands.

Posted by: opit on January 28, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe by "staying positive" Rudy means he's hoping to keep his poll numbers above zero. He might manage that.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on January 29, 2008 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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