John McCain

The John and Joe Show

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DERRY, NH—John McCain and Joe Lieberman just wrapped up a town hall in this town south of Manchester. It's the first time I've seen McCain stump and answer questions outside of DC since 2000, when he came to my alma mater, and I'll admit it, I see how he wins people over: He tussled for four minutes with a pushy anti-Iraq war voter who kept asking him when we could leave Iraq.

"We're still in South Korea," McCain said. we still have troops in Bosnia. I'm worried about U.S. casualties, not U.S. presence."

The questioner pushed back, and McCain got a little tougher: "If we had left six months ago, I would look you in the eye today and tell you al Qaeda had won. They would had forced us out and claimed victory. Six months ago people who were saying what you're saying said the surge would fail. Well, it has succeeded."

So the questioner asked how long McCain would keep troops in Iraq: "The president says we might be there for 50 years." "Maybe 100," McCain said. "We still have bases in South Korea."

After all of this the questioner still wanted to ingratiate himself with McCain. "I just want to say, I hope you kick Romney's ass." McCain chortled. "I knew there was a reason I called on you!" He moved on to softer terrain while praising the questioner for the tussle: "This kind of discussion is important. This is what we need to have."

I don't know how to characterize Lieberman's role in the forum: He wasn't a good cop or a bad cop as much as a McCain apologist. After a question on immigration Lieberman leaned into his mic and said "I was there during the immigration debate, and the idea that John McCain supported any kind of amnesty is a lie." This despite Lieberman being, uh, a supporter of amnesty. The rest of his comments painted a beautiful future where Lieberman-like Democrats and McCain-like Republicans weld their desks together and agree on things. I was waiting in the exit in front of Lieberman's path out, so I asked him a question about the fellow Connecticut senator who campaigned for Ned Lamont in 2006.

"If Chris Dodd drops out of the race and he made a run for majority leader, would you support him?"

Lieberman frowned and turned away, then looked back at me with his mouth half-open. "He's a good guy."

NEXT: Iowa Caucus Prediction Thread (and Liveblogging)

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  1. I’m not sure where the ” is supposed to be in that last sentence. Did Lieberman say “He’s a good guy” or is that your opinion of him?

  2. So, let me get this straight: does McCain say that it’s a good thing that we have troops in Korea?

    -jcr

  3. Well, if he keeps that up he may just win over a few Libertarian Hawks like me.

    Oops, forgot about McCain’s sketchy record on tax cuts.

    Nah, on second thought, if he wins the nomination, be better to vote for Wayne Root, Libertarian.

  4. Early reports…

    Religious Conservatives turning out in big numbers. Looks good for Huckabee.

    That sucks for economic conservative Mitt Romney. Let’s hope later reports are better for the Romney camp.

  5. jcr,
    Sounds like it. 50 years and counting.

  6. “Libertarian Hawks like me. ”

    That would be “Libertarians for Force and Fraud”?

    -jcr

  7. Eric,

    I noticed you trolling the Baltimore Sun website earlier today. Now, you are pimping Romney instead of Ghouliani. What gives?

  8. The John and Joe Show

    And, appropriately enough for a thread with this title, Iraq is mentioned.

    Now we just need 100+ comments.

  9. The Koreans invited us, and the enemy gave up in Germany.

    Anyone see either of those scenarios on the horizon in Iraq?

  10. Joe,
    According to the hawks like Donderooo, we are winning in Iraq. The surge is working. The insurgent downfall is just around the corner. What, you don’t believe them either?

  11. joe,

    To be fair, the Baathist leaders (who were the enemy we were fighting when we invaded) gave up in Iraq, also.

  12. The surge isn’t working, but the change in strategy and administration is. Techniques for dealing with insurgencies like Iraq have been documented for at least 50 years.

    French officers in Indochina wrote volumes about it, which their leaders ignored. American officers read some of the French work on the subject and applied it successfully in isolated commands, and their leaders ignored the success and terminated the changes. The initial occupation of Iraq, like the rest of the Bush administration, ignored decades (arguably millenia) of accumulated wisdom and proceeded to make things much worse than they ever needed to be.

    Petraus and friends are not the ignoramuses that their predecessors were. They changed policies, patrolling techniques, and worked more effectively to build ties and information networks. The extra troops probably made those changes go smoother, but it is the changes, not the troop numbers that made the biggest difference.

    These are changes that could have been done at any time. They should have been done in August of 2003 when they saw what was really happening. Unfortunately, Rumsfeld proved to be just as much of an incompetent ego-driven micromanager as McNamara.

    So, while I was against the war, I considered that at least something good could come from it if it was done right. It’s taken until this year for the conduct of the occupation to begin to resemble “done right” and it has nothing to do with the change in troop count.

  13. McCain wouldn’t be so chipper if I was able to engage him about ImmigrationMatters and then uploaded the exchange to Youtube. For instance, I might start with this question.

    As for Weigel’s confusion, let me try to explain this as simply as possible: politicians frequently lie about what they support or use euphemisms. Thus, neither McCain nor Loserman support “amnesty”. They just support “EarnedLegalizationThroughAnAdjustmentOfStatus” or the like.

  14. Yes, LoneWacko, YoUwoLdSHOWhim.

  15. Unfortunately, McCain just moved into third in Iowa.

  16. crimethink,

    Just so. One could get the impression that the Baathist leaders in Iraq weren’t actually the main enemy.

    Rimfax,

    The “successful” counterinsurgency techniques weren’t utilized because they cannot produce the outcome that the war’s directors defined as a successful mission. Yes, we could have done a successful suppression of what looked very similar to an anti-colonialist insurgency at any time since 2003, but we didn’t want that. To do that was to miss the point of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and its proponents pointed to their desire not to do that as proof of the mission’s rightness. Time and time again, Iraq was going to be a democratic model setting off Arab Spring when we just killed this last band of bad guys. Doing an occupation/suppression mission and propping up an unpopular client regime weren’t outcomes that made the mission worthwhile, by the terms laid down by the architects of the war themselves.

    The fact that we’re doing it now is a final acknowledgment that the hawks don’t think we’re going to find the pony, either. Go back to the early 2005 threads if the archives if you don’t believe me – it was the creation of the democratic model that justified the bloodshed.

    Patraeus is a very smart general – I remember how much success he had in northern Iraq in the 101st’s area of occupation – but this isn’t just a change in the intelligence of the people setting the strategy.

  17. I’m sorry, completely uncalled-for Iraq rant. I got carried away.

    Please, don’t let me jack the thread.

  18. Thankfully Thompson pulled back ahead of McCain.

  19. HOW has the United States and every single politician and network forgotten about AFGHANISTAN. As we speak the countryis becoming less democratic, more soldiers are dieing, and the Taliban in regaining power.

  20. I’ts my fault- I shouldn’t have tipped Huck off to the Kentucky voter diversion:
    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2008/01/in-huck-signo-v.html

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