Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE GWOT ON THE QT....Via Steve Benen comes this howler from John McCain, as reported in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog:

John McCain says in almost every stump speech that he knows how to capture Osama bin Laden and that he'd follow the al Qaeda leader to the "Gates of Hell."

So Washington Wire was wondering, what does McCain know that President Bush and the Pentagon don't about how to sweep up America's most elusive enemy.

"One thing I will not do is telegraph my punches. Osama bin Laden will be the last to know," he said today while riding on the back of his bus between Florida events. In other words: he's not telling. Why not share his strategy with the current occupant of the White House? "Because I have my own ideas and it would require implementation of certain policies and procedures that only as the president of the United States can be taken."

I guess McCain heard about the Hollywood writers' strike and decided to give Jon Stewart a hand with tonight's show. Who needs writers when you have material like this at hand?

Kevin Drum 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

Right out of the Nixon "Secret Plan" to end the war playbook. I have a plan but I can't tell you. I wonder how many more will die while the "plan" is implemented.

Posted by: Tigershark on January 28, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Tigershark beat me to it. And of course Nixon had no secret plan to end the war, he was just making it up.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 28, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

That the politicians prevaricate is not remarkable.

Sadly, it is not remarkable either that a vast number of voters accept the politicians' deliberately misleading statements as incontrovertible truths.

Posted by: gregor on January 28, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

*shakes fist at Tigershark*

I, like Joe, was beaten to the clear historical precedent.

(kudos all the same)

Posted by: uri on January 28, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

we can only get OBL if we let McCain do it?

what a patriot!

Posted by: cleek on January 28, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"And of course Nixon had no secret plan to end the war..."

Actually he did. And the tricky bastard managed to keep it secret forever.

Posted by: Kenji on January 28, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

In all fairness, I believe Obama was vowing the same thing, although he was a little more explicit: he'll send troops into Pakistan and if the Pakistanis want a war, he'll give it to them.

Posted by: y81 on January 28, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Man, so McCain's vanity keeps him from helping this country and capturing Public Enemy #1?

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 28, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

he'd follow the al Qaeda leader to the "Gates of Hell."

Excellent. And while he's there he can drop off his buddies Dick and George.

Posted by: thersites on January 28, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is funny Republican Nixon wouldn't share his "secret plan" with a Democratic administration. Republican McCain's secret plan is so secret he won't share it with a Republican administration.

If you believe "Straight Talk" McCain has a secret plan to catch bin Ladin I know of this bridge in Brooklyn that you could buy cheap. Just imagine all the money you could make charging tolls?

Posted by: corpus juris on January 28, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

By the time November gets here, everybody is going to be so fixated on economic issues, they aren't going to be paying McCain all that much attention. OBL is going to be WAY down people's list of priorities when the inevitable layoffs start getting a lot of attention. That's what will determine the winner of the election-the publics' perception of who can handle the economy the best.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 28, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me you're stretching here, Kevin. The bravado is idiotic but the republican base demands this type of thing from their candidates so what really can he do - he has to make some pronouncements which if taken too far are going to seem daffy. The left is no better: Obama's rhetoric may be somewhat more eloquent but when reduced to its salient points is just as silly.

Posted by: hell is a gated community on January 28, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

McCain might be full of it, but not because of the quoted material. There's much that he could plan that wouldn't make sense to advertise in advance. That shouldn't be a hard concept. Also, many of the improvements necessary require a major change in the way we do counter-intel., organize our forces and commmand, and in our relationship with countries in the region. I wouldn't waste time trying to explain this to George Bush, either.

I personally don't need to hear specific plans on foreign policy from the candidates. The degree of specificity possible is often modest because foreign policy often depends on talented individuals feeling their way through a problem. Also, the specificity that is knowable in advance probably shouldn't be advertised.

My objection with McCain is with the things that he *could* say, but doesn't, starting with a stated desire for a regional approach to the Mideast and Asian sub-continent and a critique for the way we put all our eggs in Musharraf's basket and didn't attend to Afghanistan.

Posted by: dws on January 28, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

in the words of bugs bunny, what a maroon!

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 28, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The question is, what if McCain doesn't get elected president? Will he finally given in and share his secret plan with President Clinton or President Obama, or will he take it with him to his grave, silently cursing those fools of voters for not electing the only man who could possibly have done the job.....?

Posted by: Stefan on January 28, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is an admirable figure, and deserves repsect, but this is silliness by him.

Posted by: brian on January 28, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Two points: the first snarky, the second serious. First, you have to forgive McCain for not recognizing that this is laughably close (as everyone here has recognized) to Nixon's "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war because he was a POW when it was going on.

Second, this might not be complete BS, in as much as it's probably McCain would be more committed to finding and killing Osama bin Laden than the Bush administration. After all it is possible the Bush administration has preferred to 1) keep bin Laden around as a convenient bogey man; and 2) didn't want to risk chasing him into Pakistan for fear of destabilizing Musharraf (or worse, trying to get OBL, failing, and consequently destabilizing Musharraf and radicalizing Pakistan even further).

The thing is, McCain can't very well say that he'll send in troops to Pakistan since Musharraf has proven unwilling or unable to do it himself.

But frankly, the window of opportunity to chase bin Laden to the ends of the earth regardless of the consequences has mostly closed, thanks to the Bush administration. Within the first year or so after 9/11, the US could pretty much sent troops in hot pursuit of Bin Laden into almost any neighboring territory, including China and Former Soviet Union countries (with permission, willing or begrudging) if they were not able to handle the situation on their own. Now, not so much.

This would have been passable in 2004. In 2008 it sounds like a complete joke. It's almost a little sad to see McCain stoop to such absurdities. Many dislike the Clintons because they appear to want the job too much, but they never had the veneer of honesty ("straight talk") and candor that McCain did. It just makes McCain look all that much more desperate - more so even than Hillary, IMO.

Posted by: Augustus on January 28, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Pure "straight talk" from McCain.

Posted by: freethinker on January 28, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

First, you have to forgive McCain for not recognizing that this is laughably close (as everyone here has recognized) to Nixon's "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war because he was a POW when it was going on.

Because no information on this has been available to him in the 35 years since he was released?

Between the stay-in-Iraq-for-100-years remark and this ready-made invitation for his opponents to say, "So your ego is more important than dead American soldiers?," McCain is writing the other team's ad material.

Posted by: shortstop on January 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

You have to give McCain credit for being a straight talker. Like his speeches in Michigan: "I'm giving it to you straight. Your jobs are not coming back. I'm giving them to Mexicans."

Posted by: Luther on January 28, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain says in almost every stump speech...that he'd follow the al Qaeda leader to the "Gates of Hell."

IOKIYAR: You follow a leader in which you have absolute faith to the "Gates of Hell".

From other candidates? People who specialize in parsing Democrats' commas would pass out on the idiocy explicit in this statement.

And I wouldn't follow Rudy McRomney out of a burning building.

Posted by: ThresherK on January 28, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

if anyone knows the gates of hell best..

its a republican

Posted by: mr. irony on January 28, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

McCain might be full of it

"Might be"?

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is planning to invade Pakistan. That's one of his "other wars". And of course we know that he does not believe in ever leaving places that have been invaded.

Posted by: JS on January 28, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was just channelling his inner KHAAAAAANNN....

Posted by: Justin Slotman on January 28, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of Secretary of State Powell telling the UN: "We know exactly where the WMD's are!"

A semi-rational 5-year old would immediately ask: "If you know exactly where the WMD's are, why don't you tell the UN inspectors?"

Alas, the question was never asked. By inference you strongly suspect that the 'free' press is either controlled or they are all idiots.

Methinks they are not ALL idiots... therefore...

Posted by: Buford on January 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK
I guess McCain heard about the Hollywood writers' strike and decided to give Jon Stewart a hand with tonight's show. Who needs writers when you have material like this at hand?

Its pretty much been Clinton's standard response to "how will you do X" questions for the whole campaign on domestic policy. Well, except for the mention of ObL.

"If I told you, it wouldn't work, you'll just have to trust me" is a pretty common cop-out line this year, in various forms.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 28, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"I will find Osama bin Laden by getting angry and throwing my back out at him." - McCain, insane war elderly

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 28, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

"If you believe 'Straight Talk' McCain has a secret plan to catch bin Ladin I know of this bridge in Brooklyn that you could buy cheap. Just imagine all the money you could make charging tolls?"
Posted by: corpus juris on January 28, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Kewl!!
Hang on, I'll get a second mortgage -- how much of a down payment do you need?

Posted by: American Voter on January 28, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't Mr. McCain go do it himself? Last time he acted in our country's behalf, he can back unable to comb his hair, maybe this time he'll come back unable to scratch his balls. That should help reassure the Republican base that he's their man.

I don't like McCain.

Posted by: Mooser on January 28, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Good. And I hope he can catch that Goldstein fellow while he's at it.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 28, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

If you believe "Straight Talk" McCain has a secret plan to catch bin Ladin I know of this bridge in Brooklyn that you could buy cheap.

Oh yeah, I have TEN bridges in Baghdad I can sell to anyone who believes in McCain's straight talk express ;-)

Posted by: rational on January 28, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Secret plans. Let's see, McCain has a secret plan to catch OBL at the same time that he accuses Romney of having a secret plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Nixon had a secret plan. Are democrats too dumb to devise secret plans to impress the voters, or do Democrats realize that voters are no longer as dumb as the Republicans think they are.

Posted by: sparky on January 28, 2008 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, it is not remarkable either that a vast number of voters accept the politicians' deliberately misleading statements as incontrovertible truths.

How can you tell? I mean, I don't believe a word any of the candidates say, but I still must vote in November, preferably for a Democrat because s/he is Not Bush, and without voicing any cynicism or snarkiness about the system because if I do, the Terrorists Have Won.

Posted by: Duncan on January 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bah. Jon Stewart's been whoring around with David Gergen.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on January 29, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

By helping to keep Osama bin Laden alive until next year, John McCain has proved that he is objectively pro-al Qaeda.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on January 31, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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