Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain gets caught making stuff up, and the media still won't call him on it

Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to recover from what would have been a candidacy-ending gaffe had Barack Obama or any other Democrat made it, John McCain redefined "The Surge" to include any counterinsurgency action taken during the Iraq occupation.

That is not an exaggeration. It is actually painful to watch. Olbermann let the entire explanation roll. It begins at 02:54 in the clip.

Just one part of McCain's effort to explain why he got the timeline of "The Surge" backward on CBS:

"I'm not sure, frankly, that people really understand that a surge is part of a counterinsurgency strategy, which means going in, clearing, holding, building a better life, providing services to the people, and then... uh... clearly a part of that, an important part of it, was additional troops to help ensure the safety of the sheiks, to regain control of Ramadi, which was a very bloody fight, and then the surge continued to succeed in that counterinsurgency."
This is incoherent.

"The Surge," as promoted by the Bush administration, was a temporary escalation of troop levels in order to quell violence and give the Iraqi government time to make progress toward reconciliation with the country's different political and religious factions. Period.

Bush sent 30,000 troops to Iraq as part of The Surge, mainly to Baghdad. Twenty-thousand of those troops remain in Iraq. So The Surge wasn't even a surge. It was a permanent escalation of troop levels in the occupation of Iraq. That escalation begain in February, 2007.

But John McCain, having embarrassed himself by demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the chronology, now insists that what we think of as The Surge, is actually just a small part of a Surge that began, presumably, with the fall of Baghdad.

And some in the news media, such as CNN, seem prepared to swallow this nonsense sinker, hook, and twine.

McCain broadens definition of surge

BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (CNN) – John McCain defended comments he made in an interview on Tuesday when he incorrectly argued that the surge in Iraq gave way to the so-called “Anbar Awakening” - when Sunni leaders joined forces with U.S. troops to fight Al Qaeda in the fall of 2006.

The Arizona senator told reporters Wednesday afternoon that when he refers to the surge, it encompasses not just the January 2007 increase in troop levels but also the counter-insurgency that started in Iraq’s Al Anbar province months prior.

“A surge is really a counter-insurgency strategy, and it’s made up of a number of components,” McCain said. “This counter-insurgency was initiated to some degree by Colonel McFarland in Anbar province, relatively on his own.”


The Obama campaign quickly seized on the discrepancy in the timeline between when the Awakening started and the U.S. later added 30,000 boots on the ground. Before McCain responded, his camp hit back saying that Democrats were minimizing the military’s role in recent successes in Iraq.
CNN does not bother to note that McCain's "broadened" definition of The Surge is, in fact, a fabrication. The Most Trusted Name in News is content to cast any inconsistency between McCain's view and objective reality as a simple disagreement between his and Obama's campaigns: McCain says The Surge is everything, and everything is The Surge. The Obama campaign says, "nuh-uh!"

I certainly don't espect The Most Trusted Name in News to run a headline that says "McCain makes sh**t up," but it would be nice for them to at least acknolwedge that McCain is really just trying to explain away his complete lack of knowledge on his signature issue.

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