The media are back in McCain’s corner, and in a big way. The surprise, to me, is that they are led by the Union Leader, which used to be a reliable conservative voice. But, then again, New Hampshire used to be a reliable conservative state.
Yes, McCain urged sending more troops to Iraq, but that’s not what has helped turn the tide in Iraq. It’s the strategy that Petraeus has put in place with the additional forces, and despite my best efforts, I can find no evidence that the Petraeus strategy was developed with McCain’s assistance. So, the credit McCain receives for urging the deployment of more troops has grown into something mythical.
Moreover, one of the problems Bush had when he took office was that the military had been hollowed out. There weren’t enough soldiers, and I would argue there still aren’t. Bush had to simultaneously rebuild the military and fight the war. If McCain were such a great leader on military affairs, and as competent at “reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats” as he claims, why didn’t he make this a priority? In fact, he has spent a great deal of his time in the Senate on domestic issues, and in that he has a mixed record. And when he did focus on the Pentagon, he attacked its wastefulness and sought, at times, to micro-manage it. But let’s no rewrite his record into something it was not.
And as I have said repeatedly, his record on homeland security — which is every bit as important as our military operations overseas as they are, in essence, one in the same — is very poor. He has picked up the ACLU’s brief for the enemy and advanced it in the Senate and in public debate. I am more than happy to discuss this further, as I have before, but I really don’t think that’s necessary.
McCain’s consistent support for the war in Iraq is one chapter in a long story. It doesn’t speak to the entirety of a more complex and, in some way, troubling record. I believe it is accurate to label McCain a hawk in some ways, but I don’t believe he is a conservative.
(Yes, he opposes earmarks and deficit spending, but he also supports an activist, interventionist federal government, which was his record as Commerce Committee chairman, so he can hardly be called a credible voice for limited government.)