What I hope to be a regular feature on Marque’s Letters, “Say It, John” is my minor contribution to John McCain’s campaign for President — a phrase, a soundbite, even a small speechy-type thing that would improve his chances of defeating the Obamenon.
This week’s entry falls into the category of welcoming the enemy with open arms — and locking him into a position he can’t quite deny, but he wouldn’t ever say that way. If you question the wisdom of this tactic, think about 1) how you respond if you’re Obama, 2) how you react if you’re a liberal, and 3) how this makes McCain look, compared to his more combative pose of late.
“I’ve got an admission to make. Over the past few weeks, I’ve frankly focused far too much on where Senator Obama and I differ on Iraq. It’s a habit derived from months and months — actually, now years and years — of finding myself steadfastly opposed to the campaign of failure and defeat in Iraq waged by Democrats in Congress. And for much of the war, Senator Obama has been among them — voting against the surge, voting against funding for the troops, and voting in favor of timelines that would have removed all American forces before Super Tuesday.
But today I can say that I am proud to have Senator Obama join me, Senator Lieberman, and countless other fair-minded public servants in favor of a measured, conditions-based withdrawal of troops that acknowledges our victory, maintains security for the Iraqi people, and ensures stability in the region. While we can debate about the size of the remaining force or the duration of the force reduction, those are decisions for presidents, not candidates. We both agree that the time is near — but not at hand — for a victorious withdrawal of most combat troops from Iraq. We both agree that the remaining force must be large enough to meet several key objectives: fight all remaining terrorist elements; provide training to Iraqi troops; and ensure logistical and security support for remaining fighters. We agree, in essence, that our campaign for the freedom and independence of the Iraqi people is near a successful end. And my friends, that should make every American proud.
Of all the tragedies our nation and its soldiers have endured during this five year struggle against terror and mayhem in Iraq, among the most troubling to me has been the reversion of our political debate to lows not seen since the Vietnam War. Craven activists have called our skilled commanders “traitors.” Politicians on both sides have questioned opponents’ character and credibility. In vote after vote, election after election, so-called representatives of the American people used this war to win the next election, rather than fight to defeat America’s enemies. But I didn’t lose hope. George Washington listened from the frozen camp of Valley Forge as the Continental Congress debated whether his troops could have more food. Abraham Lincoln endured five hard years of calls for his impeachment, demands for an end to war, and cries of the denial of civil liberties. Even Franklin Roosevelt had his political enemies question every move he made as he mobilized the nation to free Europe in the defining struggle of the 20th century.
And it was with these lessons in mind that, each night, I prayed to God that our nation’s leaders would be able to join together; that we could govern as one with the common goals of protecting America, extending peace to the Middle East, and ensuring that the Iraqi people’s hopes for democracy in the wake of decades of tyranny would be realized. Now, as Senator Obama joins us in his desire for victory with honor, for service with pride, and for a future with hope for the people of Iraq, I thank God for honoring my prayers. Let this be a new beginning, where Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, can join together — to win this war, honor our soldiers for their service, remember our fallen veterans for their ultimate sacrifice, and move the nation forward in its endless pursuit of peace and freedom.
Now, with these crucial principles decided, it is up to the American people to decide who among us is best prepared to implement them. I obviously have my own opinion on the matter. But at least as to the question of Iraq, my friends, we can put aside the petty debates of yesterday and choose the leader, not the path he should follow.”