No Retreat, Baby


Jim Geraghty reports that the Bush administration is going to win back your support for the Iraq War with a surge of subtlely:

John McCain says he has been told General Petraeus will be testifying before the Senate on September 11.

McCain also plans a themed campaign tour to build up support for the war.

We're going to get together a lot of our veterans, medal of honor winners, those who have served in Iraq, and we're going to launch the "No Surrender Tour." We're going to try to build up support for this strategy, the anti-war people have been very active, so we're going to try to organize not just for men and women serving, but the strategy.

If the O'Hanlon/Pollack column taught us anything it's that parades of soldiers or senators mouthing support for the war doesn't matter anymore, and that reports–however pre-determined–on the political situation in Iraq are all that matters. And even then their impact is limited. People make fun of Thomas Friedman or Bill O'Reilly for saying multiple times that we only had "a few months" or "six months" to turn the war around, revising their deadlines as soon as, well, the situation was obviously not getting better. They sound silly now, but they were on to something. In retrospect there was about an eighteen-month period, from early 2004 to late 2005, when Americans were losing confidence in the war but willing to give Bush and Rumsfeld a chance to fix it. The good will's completely gone now and only marginally reacts to bursts of good news from Iraq.

As to the politics of McCainapalooza, I like Ryan Sager's response:

I don't get this strategy for a simple reason: While the base certainly still supports the war, it's not as if Mr. McCain's opponents don't. He's not going to out-hawk Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson; he can run even with them on hawkishness, but that's not going to revive a corpse of a campaign.

Also, wasn't "No Surrender" the theme song of the Kerry '04 campaign?

UPDATE: Wise commenters, take note that Congress only mandated that Petraeus report before September 15. The September 11 date was chosen by the White House to meet that deadline with a little time to spare, and for no other reason whatsoever.

UPDATE II: OK, I'm unclear on who makes the final decision here–I don't know if it's the executive branch or Congressional Democrats. So some of my snark is probably unwarranted.