Well, Senator McCain is back from Iraq, and he’s going to make a big speech about it. Rich Lowry’s take sounds right to me in terms of the likely substance of his remarks.
Relatedly, I just read this about the Senator in the Concord Monitor:
Let’s stop lamenting how difficult it has been for him to raise money. With little interest or focus on his part, on top of a self-confessed badly managed fundraising effort, he’s raised plenty – almost $26 million. Even by 2008 standards, this is real money. What is incomprehensible is the combination of bad judgment, mismanagement and plain foolishness that allowed all that money to be spent, with little discernible to show for it, except for suggestions that his campaign is kaput.
You know what? While the rest of that article is quite lame–a predictable ode to the “straight talk” of 2000–that is an excellent point. And what does it have to do with Iraq? A great deal.
If Senator McCain’s upcoming speech says what I think it will–let’s keep fighting in Iraq–he will deserve a great deal of credit. But that’s not enough. The last seven years should have shown us that. Because President Bush has the right ideas about Iraq too. He knows that if we surrender it will only embolden the enemy. But look where all his knowing that has gotten us. We’ve not yet won in Iraq, and we’re losing–big time–here in Washington.
Why? It’s not because President Bush lacks spine. It’s because he isn’t as good as the president needs to be at running his administration, or at getting people to buy the ideas he’s selling. It’s because people are sick and tired of the way he’s been running the show since 2001. It’s because for all his virtues, he is not the manager or the salesman we need.
Senator McCain would have us believe that what we need to fix all of this is someone who is similarly stalwart. Unfortunately for him, that’s not all we need, and he now seems to have proven–by the way he’s run his campaign–that he’s no manager either. Like the president, he’s in the right spot ideologically. In fact, in terms of troop levels, he’s been there longer. But the organization he’s been running isn’t getting people to buy his ideas–witness his comparative lack of donations, especially vis-a-vis the Democrats–nor has it been spending wisely the funds it’s taken in. And he’s lost the only advantage he ever had–the adoration of the MSM.
Senator McCain has switched strategies during this race more times than I count. But if I recall correctly, a couple of strategies ago the idea was to become the natural heir to President Bush in the eyes of the GOP establishment. Well, perhaps by having his heart in the right place on Iraq–but showing himself to be disastrous in terms of implementation and management–he’s now finally shown that he would be the natural successor to what we’ve got. If only that were what we needed.
In contrast, another candidate is running a campaign that is “running on all cylinders” and has a long history of running huge and complicated enterprises well–so much so that his former business partners call him “a great presenter, a great spokesman and a great salesman.”