The Wars of John McCain
September 26, 2008 7:30 PM   Subscribe

The Wars of John McCain. "John McCain believes the Vietnam War was winnable. Now he argues that an Obama administration would accept defeat in Iraq, with grave costs to American honor and national security. Is McCain’s quest for victory a reflection of an antiquated pre-Vietnam mind-set? Or of a commitment to principles we abandon at our peril? Is there any war McCain thinks can’t be won?"
posted by homunculus (93 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
McCain wins debate!
posted by rocketman at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


McCain wins debate!

But no fabulous prizes...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:42 PM on September 26, 2008


Is there any debate McCain thinks he hasn't won?
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:43 PM on September 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yep, he did. Sorry to say that, as I'm definitely more of an Obama fan, but I think McCain did a much better job of tying his talking points up into neat little packages. Sure, they were packages of mischaracterizations and sometimes absolute bullshit, but, as we've seen, many of the American people are far too ready to accept a turd, as long as it's been nicely polished for them. Especially when it's been polished using the American flag.

I do hope that Obama will learn a bit from this and adjust his speaking style.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 7:45 PM on September 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


defeat in Iraq...

Hey, wait a minute... didn't we catch that Saddam fellow a while back? You know, the one who flew those planes into those towers in New York? He had a big bushy beard and he was, like, in a hole, right? Yeah, I remember, we got him. We GOT HIM!

Now, what else was it we were trying to, uh, defeat?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:46 PM on September 26, 2008


Also, can anyone explain to me WHY OH WHY Obama won't just reply back to McCain and ask him how something where 4000+ US soldiers have died, $600B+ have been spent, our enemies emboldened, countless (on the order of millions?) Iraqis citizens have either been killed or forced into refuge status in other countries, could EVER be described as a "WIN" for America?
posted by armoir from antproof case at 7:48 PM on September 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Maverick don't care about anything except being President.
posted by wrapper at 7:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Really? This debate totally reminded me of that time I beat my grandpa in Crossfire. He was trying to reload, but I was all, "that's it grandpa".
posted by pilibeen at 7:49 PM on September 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


But no fabulous prizes...

Everyone gets bracelets!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by halfling at 7:50 PM on September 26, 2008 [12 favorites]


...but I think McCain did a much better job of tying his talking points up into neat little packages.

I'm not convinced that this is really what people are looking for this time around. Obama's self-assurance really came across strongly, and that is in large part what previous democratic candidates lacked.

That said, I actually didn't think McCain made such a strong showing. Too many sentence fragments.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:51 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


POW POW POW!
posted by Artw at 7:51 PM on September 26, 2008


Actually, do we have a thread where we can just talk about the debates? This stuff isn't quite appropriate here.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:53 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really? This debate totally reminded me of that time I beat my grandpa

I was feeling that for the first 10 minutes. It was like watching Grandpa Simpson. Obama definitely owned it earlier on when they were talking about the economy.

But it swung the other way as time when on & the deeper they got into foreign policy, & the military. I was jumping up and down in frustration at some of the absolute smallminded crap that McCain was spewing, knowing all the while that it would be much easier (and therefore preferable) for most people watching to digest.

I think Obama has to do a better job of getting top his point(s) more quickly and more concisely. He's a smart dude but sometimes that can get the better of him.

Sigh.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 7:54 PM on September 26, 2008


I enjoyed McCain mentioning a city then in the next breath saying "...which I've been to"


Yeah we get it, you have foreign affairs experience.
posted by mattoxic at 7:55 PM on September 26, 2008


Actually, do we have a thread where we can just talk about the debates?

Everybody's welcome over here.
posted by penduluum at 7:56 PM on September 26, 2008


All the Maverick ever wanted was his war back.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


You fuckers had better not elect McCain.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2008 [19 favorites]


Why McCain Loves Misha: Georgia's president is a man after the Republican nominee's heart. That's what worries some advisers.
posted by homunculus at 8:06 PM on September 26, 2008


Maybe I've just seen too many stump speeches on TV, but McCain's repeated reliance on his tired old bon mots really got on my nerves.

"I've never been elected Ms. Congeniality in the Senate, I don't know why."

"We're spending millions to study the DNA of bears, I don't know if that's a criminal issue or a paternal one."

"I'll take this pen, I'll make them famous, you'll know their names."

And they especially fell flat when the audience was barred from responding in any noticeable way.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd rather vote for someone who doesn't think they have to wrap up their talking points into nice looking turds for the American public. I have a brain, you know.

At any rate, it's hard for me to comment on an op-ed without writing an op-ed of my own. It's like one big Metafilter comment with favorites in the thousands.
posted by bam at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


But no fabulous prizes...

Not even a lousy copy of our home game...
posted by jonmc at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2008


Everyone gets bracelets!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a bracelet, too!

Uh, sure.

That's the makings of a great debate...if the candidates in question are ten-year olds...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2008


Bracelets. Are you fucking serious?
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:15 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why the time limit. The debate should have run for 5 hours plus. It is crazy that these huge issues were distilled into such a short time span.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:19 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


McCain should retire the amused smile he uses when Obama is scoring points against him. It worked for Reagan when he was debating, for McCain, it just looks undignified.
posted by longsleeves at 8:28 PM on September 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sorry to say, I agree with armoir from antproof case. McCain's presentation was better than Obama's. Not his information or credibility, mind you, but his presentation. Unfortunately, that's all a lot of people need to be swayed.

McCain was much better than I expected, Obama was a little more wooden than I hoped.

Obama needs to be a bit more forceful and get to his main points a little faster; a little more sound-bite style for a sound-bite electorate.

On the bright side, Biden was spectacular as usual in his little apres-debate spin on NBC while Giuliani was ghoulish at best. I hope the fact that Giuliani filling in for what should have been Palin wasn't lost on the average viewers.

I believe the chasm of experience between Biden and Palin in the VP debate next week is going to play a much larger role in this election than anyone has thought up until now.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:34 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a bracelet, too. It says, "Fuck you, John McCain."
posted by MegoSteve at 8:37 PM on September 26, 2008 [14 favorites]


Is there a video of Biden on NBC up anywhere yet? I had stuff that needed doing when the debate ended, so I missed it.
posted by Caduceus at 8:37 PM on September 26, 2008


I have a number of vets and friends on the right and they always end up by suggesting that we could have, should have, won Viet Nam. They forget that it was the American public that said enough, enough, and got the troops out of there. McCain is in that mode. We could have won that war, Iraq, and also Afghanistan if we simply keep sending troop[s and never leave any place.

Ob ama will always be wooden.It is his nature. He is bright and informed but lacks passion. On the other hand, as Time reminds us: a white guy that is explosive is a populist; a black guy, seen as a militant.
posted by Postroad at 8:39 PM on September 26, 2008


McCain came across as incompetent and about as intelligent as Bush.

But .....Obama needs to grow some balls if he is going impress this country.
posted by HuronBob at 8:48 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


To people saying McCain won regardless of truth and content because his soundbites score points or whatever:

MediaCurves: Independents say Obama won 61% - 39%

CBS: Uncommitted voters say Obama won 40% - 22% (with the other 38% saying it was a tie)

FiveThirtyEight is also claiming that Obama won in a CNN poll, a Luntz focus group, and a GQR focus group, but hasn't provided links yet.
posted by Flunkie at 8:50 PM on September 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


They forget that it was the American public that said enough, enough, and got the troops out of there.

I disagree. American leadership refused to escalate the war to what needed to get done to get a victory. Massive bombing campaigns, including nuclear options, were held back as to not upset a certain large neighbors. In the end it probably turned out for the best as a war with China and Russia would have been incredibly destabilizing for the entire region. That's the downside with proxy wars. You just show the big guys how many of you men they can kill and you call it "resolve" as the NVA keeping winning.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:53 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loved McCain taking a bold stand against bear DNA. Also "I have a bracelet too" was super funny, but then I realized Obama was serious and then I felt sad inside.

Also I found Lehrer's question/grilling annoying. Yeah dude, they're not giving you a straight answer on "which elements of your platform will you betray due to the economy?" Give it up, bad question, move along.
posted by frenetic at 8:59 PM on September 26, 2008


McCain lost. He needed to win big after the campaign clusterfucks of the last week -- Palin revealed as blithering dipshit, the economy tanking, McCain's search to find the real killer or whatever the fuck that was supposed to be -- and at best this was a draw. And over the next few days, I figure Obama will retroactively win decisively as McCain's statements are gutted by fact checkers and late-night comics.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:00 PM on September 26, 2008 [9 favorites]


I loved McCain taking a bold stand against bear DNA.
Too bad his running mate has requested earmarks for studying seal DNA.

Of course, as both she and McCain are fond of telling us, she never requests earmarks. But cognitive dissonance is not relevant to their base, even if it's cognitive dissonance about two entirely different things within the same sentence.
posted by Flunkie at 9:03 PM on September 26, 2008


SPEAKING OF WHAT THIS THREAD IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT ...

I'm not an expert on anything but I have done more than my share of Vietnam related reading. If I've learned anything from it (other than the obligatory war is hell-isms) it's that America's leaders never truly grasped the fact that they had stumbled into a nationalistic struggle that had been going on for decades, if not centuries. That is, the so-called North were far more concerned with uniting their nation than they were in aiding and abetting and spreading the World Communist Conspiracy. They were not necessarily nice about it, their means were often brutal ... but they had the support of the majority of the Vietnamese people.

America sided with the wrong team and lost. The only way to have won would have required means akin to genocide. If you have any doubts about this, I urge you to see Fog of War.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 PM on September 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


McCain's search to find the real killer
This is a great line.
posted by Flunkie at 9:04 PM on September 26, 2008


Mississippi mudslinging: Liveblogging the first presidential debate

Siri Agrell, 26/09/08 at 9:04 PM EDT

10:36: I gotta say, I think Obama got schooled. Every memorable line was McCain's. Every opportunity to take McCain or the Republican administration to task was missed. It must have been an intentional strategy, to avoid saying anything nasty or disrespectful that could be held against him. I think it was a stupid strategy, but perhaps being dignified and sticking to the script will work. Knocking McCain on his butt would have worked better.

10:32: McCain says he doesn't believe Obama is prepared to be president. Obama says he is from Kenya. McCain says veterans make him sad. Lehrer says we're done.

10:31: Jim Lehrer looks bored. I feel your pain, Jim.

10:24: "I think we are safer as a nation, but we are a long way from safe." Good line from McCain on likelihood of another 9/11.

10:17: Obama just spoke at length about Russia without making a crack about Palin saying she can see the country from Alaska. He should hire Tina Fey for his debate prep team.

10:14: Laugh lines for McCain: two. Laugh lines for Obama: zero. Temptation to change the channel: growing

10:11: Are both men really trying to lay claim to agreeing with Henry Kissinger?!

10:09: McCain just said he'd sit down with anyone, if he had preconditions. What Obama should have said: "That's funny, because you didn't even want to come here and speak with me."

10:03: McCain has so far used the words straight-talk and maverick in reference to himself. Along with his Main Street reference, and mention of the surge, all I need is for him to call his wife a nasty name and I can yell Republican Bingo.

9:57: McCain is bringing up the dead soldier's bracelet that he wears. Republicans memorize narrative, Democrats memorize facts.

9:51: McCain admits that the U.S. was culpable for the emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

9:46: Obama needs to use his line about McCain saying he'll chase Obama to the Gates of Hell, but not the cave where he lives. Instead, he used the word precipitous.

9:40: Obama looks straight into the camera and says the U.S. has misused its military. McCain rebounds by saying the next president won't have to worry about why the war started, but how it will end. Now things are getting interesting.

9:39: McCain's hair is distractingly shiny and comb-over helmety.

9:35: Here we go. Obama finally points out that the Republicans have been in charge for the last eight years.

9:31: McCain is winning in my view right now. He's actually being more specific -- if not entirely accurate -- and is taking swipes at Obama, saying he's too far left to reach across the aisle. Obama seems to have forgotten that he's fighting for something, and that means landing some blows.

9:30: Did Stephen Colbert lend Ole Miss his giant eagle mural for the debate backdrop?

9:25: Come on, Obama. McCAin just asked your definition of rich. You were supposed to say "A guy who doesn't know how many houses he has." Stop throwing away these opportunities.

9:20: Lehrer really wants them to engage one another. Maybe if you asked a decent question, they would.

9:20: Taxes and lobbyists -- that's what foreign policy is all about.

9:15: Obama just threw away the perfect opportunity to slam McCain for the earmarks collected by his running mate, Sarah Palin. Take a swing, dude.

9:11: What in god's name do CNN's audience reaction lines at the bottom of the screen mean? I feel like I'm watching McCain's heart-rate monitor.

9:10: McCain gets first laugh for asking Lehrer "did you think I couldn't hear him?" when Obama was instructed to speak straight to him.

9:07: Both candidates admit that the economy has problems, neither will say whether the bailout will work. Actually, McCain just said "sure" when asked if he'd vote for the plan. Lehrer didn't ask if you'd like a glass of water buddy, you just shuffed off a $700-billion (U.S.) question.

9:05: Everyone has to stop using the Wall Street/Main Street comparison. Wall Street is a real place, Main Street is a condescending, cliched way to refer to those who got bent over by Wall Street.

9:01: Jim Lehrer said that "by definition" the economic crisis falls under the topic of foreign policy. Right, because the Sudan and Iraq are reeling from the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

9 p.m.: Well, the economy is still screwed, so I guess McCain will be too busy sorting that out to show up here.... Oh my god, wait - there he is! That's not campaign suspension I can believe in.

posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 PM on September 26, 2008


John McCain believes the Vietnam War was winnable.

I thought McCain almost flinched when he was thrown the question, about "learning from the war in Viet Nam" ( ... and what would we learn from the war in Iraq?)

I'm pretty sure that whatever McCain learned about the war in Viet Nam it wasn't what the moderator was assuming ... that the Viet Nam war was a *HUGE* mistake and we are still suffering from the fallout.

McCain spent the war in a box. He (and all his chickhawk rah rah warrior buddies) need to go back and read that history ... just a bit more closely.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:08 PM on September 26, 2008


I think Obama held his own, but I expected more. He should have beaten down McCain with the seal DNA earmark, the Webb GI Bill vote, the Palin choice, and the Spain thing, among others.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:14 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


9:46: Obama needs to use his line about McCain saying he'll chase Obama to the Gates of Hell, but not the cave where he lives. Instead, he used the word precipitous.

Is this some sort of weird Freudian slip or is McCain really getting his war on in this debate?
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:18 PM on September 26, 2008


You fuckers had better not elect McCain.

I wish I could [+] this several thousand times. Don't make the Canadians angry, you fuckers. You wouldn't like notice us when we're angry.
posted by ~ at 9:29 PM on September 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Obama missed chances to nail McCain when it came to Palin's earmarks, but he did get him on Iran and Spain. McCain did far better than expected, though. I honestly have no idea who moved the polls more. However, McCain did do the sighing and smirking, which supposedly lost Gore his debates.
posted by ignignokt at 9:29 PM on September 26, 2008


homunculus, I am really sorry this thread has been hijacked by the debate ... bad timing.


That Atlantic Monthly article deserves more consideration. I'd like to see this reposted later ... is this a metatalk issue?
posted by Surfurrus at 9:33 PM on September 26, 2008


Don't make the Canadians angry, you fuckers. You wouldn't like notice us when we're angry.
We're not scared of you. Sarah Palin will protect us when Harper rears his head into our airspace.
posted by Flunkie at 9:37 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


That Atlantic Monthly article deserves more consideration. I'd like to see this reposted later ... is this a metatalk issue?

I agree.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 PM on September 26, 2008


Re the debate and McCain's take on war.

Basically McCain sounds to me as if he has a war chip on his shoulder, like Bush Sr. And that's not what the USA or the world needs now, another guy with some unresolved, Dr. Strangelovian type of push the red button, Slim Picken's rides the nuke Yeeha into oblivion chip.

All politicians have sounded utterly slimy and total liars to me before. It's felt literally sickening to listen to them. Until Obama. He seems authentic and real.

Obama is the first politician I've ever been able to listen to closely and feel comfortable. His face and manners are elegant, a grown-up, a sane human being, who I think would be able to engage in sane conversations with both the US political leaders and those of any number of foreign countries, without being paternalistic and war mongering while still being a leader.

Yes, McCain mouthed politician paragraphs during the debate but the feeling that came through, imo, is that he's bloodthirsty. Slick, packaged rage. So what if he knew the name Waziristan or visited Afghanistan. I have too. That doesn't make me or anybody who just visited there know how to handle an extremely delicate diplomatic situation. I don't think McCain is remotely up to such diplomacy. I think Obama is.

Obama made some great points about how the US under Bush's last 8 years, turning it's back on countries in silence as a type of punishment, made the world a vastly more dangerous place. McCain radiated covert bile and bloodthirstiness. Obama was intelligently understanding.

Please, please may Obama win.
posted by nickyskye at 9:41 PM on September 26, 2008 [21 favorites]


We're not scared of you. Sarah Palin will protect us when Harper rears his head into our airspace.

He's not rearing his head, he's our decoy while the rest of us wily Canucks...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on September 26, 2008


homunculus, I am really sorry this thread has been hijacked by the debate ... bad timing.

That's okay, I expected it. It was McCain's comment that "we will win this one and we won't come home in defeat and dishonor" which reminded me of the Atlantic article. I posted it because it sheds more light on McCain and some of the things said during the debate, and what kind of Commander in Chief he would be.
posted by homunculus at 9:53 PM on September 26, 2008


The US could have won in Vietnam in the same way it has won in Iraq, by keeping a lid on the insurgency in the major centres, and avoiding the countryside. The country never gets the chance to heal, but national pride is assuaged.
posted by mattoxic at 9:54 PM on September 26, 2008


That Atlantic Monthly article deserves more consideration. I'd like to see this reposted later ... is this a metatalk issue?

I guess it is if you're bored enough to make it one, but I think the FPP is a pretty clear invite to talk about the debates, and I can't imagine anyone would be surprised that's happening. I basically guessed that was the whole unspoken point of the FPP. It's not like this article was published today or anything. I read it two or three weeks ago, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:55 PM on September 26, 2008


Fact Check: "McCain seriously mistated his vote concerning the marines in Lebanon. He said that when he went into Congress in 1983, he voted against deploying them in Beirut. The Marines went in Lebanon in 1982, before McCain came to Congress. The vote came up a year into their deployment, when the Marines had already suffered 54 casualties. What McCain voted against was a measure to invoke the War Powers Act and to authorize the deployment of U.S. Marines in Lebanon for an additional 18 months. The measure passed 270-161, with 26 other Republicans (including McCain) and 134 Democrats voting against it."
posted by homunculus at 9:56 PM on September 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought the article very revealing of McCain's mind set concerning "winning" in Iraq: a Pyrhhic victory, better than no victory at all. Red team can't beat Blue team; if Blue does not win, it equals a loss of honor, irrespective of whether there is any valid policy goal achieved.

Is "victory" in Iraq the extirpation of all Sunni? All Shiites? Iran saying "Uncle" (Sam, that is)? American troops parading down Fifth Avenue escorting the heads of Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri? McCain will never say.
posted by rdone at 10:10 PM on September 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Slim Picken's rides the nuke Yeeha into oblivion chip.
posted by homunculus at 10:10 PM on September 26, 2008


*its back, not it's

That's it exactly homunculus.

Another thing. What "war in Iraq" is McCain talking about winning? How would the USA "win" a wholesale slaughter? The USA invaded Iraq, murdered 95,664 of its residents ("non-combatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion") or more.

The USA forcibly occupied Iraq. Iraq never waged war on the USA. Ever. The "serious and imminent threat to U.S. national security", the supposed weapons of mass destruction were never found.
posted by nickyskye at 10:17 PM on September 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Republican campaign has been a tragicomic affair as of late.

I wonder if Obama will ever come out and speak bluntly about McCain's campaign blunders and mistakes.

My perception is that Obama has been a "nice guy" for an awful long time, generally not lowering himself to the standards of negative politicking. It's like he has actual respect for the office of the Presidency or the responsibilities of being a candidate. Still, a fellow just yearns to hear him point out the colossal ineptitude of the McPalin-Bush team.

The memoirs that come out of this debacle are going to be the stuff of legend.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:28 PM on September 26, 2008


Good point, rdone. That is THE KEY question that Obama has to ask McCain. What exactly is McCain's definition of victory? And how exactly is he going to see that it happens?

Who wins, and who loses, is often just a matter of perspective (as filtered through and defined by your media, of course). I think for John, he is trying to bring resolution to a deep psychological wounding of long ago. And he's willing to risk the country's future in order to get that.

>> Is "victory" in Iraq the extirpation of all Sunni?

I think that's already happened. Some say that the only reason why it's remotely possible to attribute "success" to The Surge is because it started right at the tail end of the Sunni's having been ethnically cleansed by the Shiites.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:30 PM on September 26, 2008


Debate fact-check 2: The Surge
posted by homunculus at 10:38 PM on September 26, 2008


Is Warshington one of the wars? Because he keeps talking about that one.
posted by milkrate at 1:17 AM on September 27, 2008


An answer for the other thread, but it fits in better here:

I'm still struggling to realize that McCain said he wants to solve (win against!) this epic financial crisis by freezing spending except for the military, veterans and a few vital areas.

Can someone explain to me why veteran's benefits is critical enough to make the "immune to spending freeze" list? I mean, obviously it's not insignificant, but there's lots of items in the budget that are important that wouldn't make that list.

I didn't get why the military was in this list in the first place. But now I'm starting to see the great benefits:

1. His only talking point "I'm a maverick" gets across
2. By winning four more wars, motivation will skyrocket, thats how this solves the financial crisis
3. If the only spending is military spending, it's much easier to argue for using it inside the US - extensive economic synergies there
4. By becoming like them, we beat North Korea
5. Profit!
posted by dnial at 4:32 AM on September 27, 2008


Massive bombing campaigns, including nuclear options, were held back as to not upset a certain large neighbors. In the end it probably turned out for the best as a war with China and Russia would have been incredibly destabilizing for the entire region.

Wow, nuclear war would have destabilized the SE Asian region! What outcome could be worse?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:49 AM on September 27, 2008


Can someone explain to me why veteran's benefits is critical enough to make the "immune to spending freeze" list?

Especially considering that compared to Obama, he doesn't even have the Senate voting record to back up his love of veterans:

- Time on McCain & the veterans. "[McCain]'s voted for veterans funding bills only 30% of the time, according to a scorecard of roll-call votes put out by the nonpartisan Disabled Americans for America. Under the same system Obama has a 90% rating.."

- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America action fund ratings of congress members in terms of support for their cause (McCain scored a D, Obama a B+).

- Disabled American Veterans tally of congress voting records in recent years on veteran issues has Obama at 17 favorable votes to 1 unfavorable, and McCain at 11 favorable votes to 17 unfavorable.
posted by p3t3 at 5:09 AM on September 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oops, I should have mentioned that it was spaceman_spiff who asked about the veteran's benefits, sorry. Those voting records are interesting too, indeed.
posted by dnial at 5:24 AM on September 27, 2008


it's tiresome after all this time to see the vietnam war still an issue in the campaign of 2008 - especially since we've yet to learn the real lesson of that war - that one can win all the battles tactically and still lose strategically

there is no possible outcome of the iraq war that can make up for our decreased standing in the world and the fact that it took us far too long to stabilize the country - we have already lost strategically and we can't get that back
posted by pyramid termite at 6:50 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a number of vets and friends on the right and they always end up by suggesting that we could have, should have, won Viet Nam. They forget that it was the American public that said enough, enough, and got the troops out of there. McCain is in that mode.

People that think we could have won the Vietnam War usually focus only on the military aspect and forget that war is politics by other means. A key test is their opinion of the Tet Offensive. "We coulda won" advocates like to point out--completely accurately--that it resulted in a major defeat of the Communists and basically wiped out the Vietcong. What's more important is that it was a turning point in American public opinion because the Vietcong were able to simultaneously attack every major city in South Vietnam after years of the American government and military telling us we were going to win and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

America's leaders never truly grasped the fact that they had stumbled into a nationalistic struggle that had been going on for decades, if not centuries. That is, the so-called North were far more concerned with uniting their nation than they were in aiding and abetting and spreading the World Communist Conspiracy.

This is the key issue to me. You can't win a war if you don't understand what you're fighting about. By the time we sent combat troops into Vietnam in 1965, the Vietnamese had been fighting for independence for thirty years.

Meanwhile, we initially backed a corrupt guy that had more in common with the former French occupiers than with the majority of the people, then we backed a series of military dictators.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 AM on September 27, 2008


Barack Obama has never even been to Vietnam.
posted by Poolio at 7:17 AM on September 27, 2008


We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bracelets. Are you fucking serious?

Yeah, it's silly, but Obama was able to counter McCain's sentimental treacle with some of his own, for the sake of a woman who didn't want any other soldiers to meet the same fate as her son. So, the pro-war military moms aren't the only voices that matter.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Comrade McCain seems to have quite a bit of knowledge about the Eastern Bloc. Seems suspicious to me.
posted by valentinepig at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Admittedly I only listened to the debate and didn't watch the candidates. But from the listening aspect I thought the whole debate was kind of milktoasty. At no point did either candidate really nail one out of the park(so to speak).
These things are too canned/rehearsed. It really takes away from things. I want to see unrehearsed, spontaneous questions and answers. And forget the two minutes for you, now you thing.
I can't tell who "won" the debate. I think trying to find a winner in the debates is the wrong way of looking at it.
I tell you who the losers are though. The rest of us.
posted by a3matrix at 8:06 AM on September 27, 2008


You know what else I would like to see, before having to vote for one of these guys (or one of the others) is some kind of short list on their cabinet picks. I think that would reveal a lot about what an administration would be like.
I wish Lieberman would run 3rd party so I would have someone to vote for.
How is 2012 looking? Any picks for primaries yet?
posted by a3matrix at 8:10 AM on September 27, 2008


If anything, going by the audio alone since I was only listening, I came away feeling like we're fucked either way. Neither candidate made me feel like he was remotely prepared for what's coming.

Which leaves me still figuring I've got to go with Obama...he's bound to surround himself with a lot smarter, saner people than McCain is, as evidenced by their vice presidential choices.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2008


I wish Lieberman would run 3rd party so I would have someone to vote for.

Really? Well, he seems to be a McCain guy.

I sorta wish he would run, then he'd take Florida from McCain and peel off the other pro-war independents. Wish I could respect him, but he's pretty fucking slimy anymore, and I don't buy his vision of democracy through interventionism.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2008


We appreciated that this debate remained quite civil. Yes McCain was able to get out more prepackaged soundbites, and he did demonstrate knowledge of foreign affairs, but Obama sounded like the grownup in the room, and I think he clearly conveyed that he was actually thinking about this stuff, and not someone spewing calibrated lines that were designed by PR consultants.

I thought Obama clearly scored by exposing McCain's misstatement on the actual corporate tax rate, and also by stressing that McCain's tax cuts favoured the rich whereas Obama's would benefit 95% of Americans.

I do wish Obama had been more critical of the current administration's epic failings and underlining McCain's relationship to them. I also fear that Obama's stressing of the spending he intends to do re healthcare, education, etc (as correct and necessary as they are) will be just grist for the loony right's "Tax and spend Democratz" mantra.

Overall, I was impressed and reassured by Senator Obama's performance last night. I'm more convinced he's the right guy for the job.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2008


I wish Lieberman would run 3rd party so I would have someone to vote for.

I wish 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th parties were a viable political reality in this country. The two-party system will bring us only the same soundbite, made-for-TV politics that we saw last night.
posted by Rykey at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th parties were a viable political reality in this country.

I'm less than enthused by the idea of someone winning who was endorsed by, say, 15% of the electorate, though. Obviously, the way things stand now, you have candidates who may take 50+% of the vote but who are only passionately supported by a very small fraction of that, but there's still something I find extremely unnerving about the idea of a president who got there via a tiny (albeit passionate) slice of the pie that just happened to be slightly larger than all the other tiny slices. It's been suggested more than once that we move to a first choice/second choice-type ballot -- which would surely defuse spoilers like Nader, and might move us closer to viable third, fourth, etc. parties, though by how much I'm not sure...I'm guessing a lot of people would make second choice conscience selections/first choice pragmatic choices, making it a more symbolic than meaningful gesture.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2008


Well, Obama won that debate. The only definition of "winning a debate" that means anything is: more people *think* you won than think the opponent won. By that measure, and it's the only one that matters, Obama's victory was clear.

I thought McCain's constant sneering and smirking every time Obama was speaking did him some harm. It seemed unpresidential, even churlish. If the image McCain was trying to project was that of a sneering, churlish, old rich dude, he totally nailed it.
posted by jamstigator at 10:10 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish Lieberman would run 3rd party so I would have someone to vote for.

I wish Joe would run 3rd party so he could finally see some quantitative data that his endless demagoguery and Israel-first approach to foreign policy resonates with nearly no-one in this country.

Obama was able to counter McCain's sentimental treacle with some of his own

I was glad that Obama didn't take the bait on this. He made the counterpoint on the bracelet and swiftly moved past it, so he could get back to the issues. Soldiers sobbing, "please let us win the war, Mr. President!" is I'm sure not how most of them would like to be represented either.

McCain's misty-eyed bullshit is really getting tiresome. About the only tricks he has at this point is either trying to terrify everyone with the imminent threat that country x imposes, and getting overly sentimental schmucks to well up in "remembering" a gentler time that never existed.
posted by psmealey at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish Lieberman would run 3rd party so I would have someone to vote for.

You think the debates are too rehearsed, yet you want Lieberman to run? Lieberman is a bigger suck-up to the punditocracy than McCain is. Nobody epitomizes the rottenness of so-called foreign policy centrism more than Holy Joe Lieberman.
posted by jonp72 at 11:07 AM on September 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


A key test is their opinion of the Tet Offensive. "We coulda won" advocates like to point out--completely accurately--that it resulted in a major defeat of the Communists and basically wiped out the Vietcong.

Yes, the Tet Offensive did a lot to fracture morale back home in America. It also forever destroyed any support the Americans may have had from the rural South Vietnamese villagers and peasantry as, in order to repel the offensive, American tactics became pretty much shoot-anything-that-moves. This lead to appalling "collateral damage" of the very hearts + minds they'd spent the previous half decade trying to win. The Vietnam War was lost here. Within a matter of months, Robert McNamara was reassigned and Lyndon Johnson quit.

And yet, it took four years (and tens of thousands of American deaths) before the last American infantry were out of the country. Meanwhile, the suffering of the Vietnamese people continued pace and was beyond imagining.
posted by philip-random at 11:21 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


getting overly sentimental schmucks to well up in "remembering" a gentler time that never existed.

I'm beginning to think this is the only time he's sincere. I have to wonder how many of his supporters' hearts sank when, near the end, he turned all mumbly and downcast and was suddenly just this doddering old fart still nursing a boner over Zombie Reagan. If that was calculated, it certainly was not rehearsed; it may have been meant to be stirring, but it looked like senile dementia. And all the prattle about SDI was just...bizarre.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2008


I wish Joe would run 3rd party so he could finally see some quantitative data that his endless demagoguery and Israel-first approach to foreign policy resonates with nearly no-one in this country.

IIRC Lieberman has an Israeli citizenship as well as a U.S. one. Shouldn't he, as a sitting U.S. Senator, be forced to surrender his Israeli citizenship? That way his electorate will know for sure that he's in Congress for U.S. interests.
posted by illiad at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Liberman isn't a democrat.
The only time I've ever agreed with him was back when he was Gore's running mate. Since then I think he has almost attached himself to McCain's hip. I'm frankly suprized that he wasn't VP pick.
He'll probably get Sec of State.
posted by Balisong at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2008


Liberman isn't a Democrat.
posted by Balisong at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2008


"John McCain believes the Vietnam War was winnable. "

That would have been news to the planners in the Pentagon that said the war was unwinnable since the mid-60s.

Christ, this argument was SO over SO very long ago.
posted by Relay at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie!"

Dude, we totally lost. Don't you remember when Vietnam occupied D.C.?

"The US could have won in Vietnam in the same way it has won in Iraq, by keeping a lid on the insurgency in the major centres, and avoiding the countryside."

We would have "won" yeah. The whole idea was to keep a lid on communism. F'ing stupid in hindsight. I mean look at the 'Nam now.
The only real way to achieve our goals would have been to nuke China. I mean they had those big meat eating Mongolian dudes running around out there. You'd see three or four 5 foot 3 dudes with AKs and then one guy with a fu-manchu mustache about 6 foot 3* humping their squad weapon.**
Silly goal fighting a political idea with military forces*** instead of just being more appealing politically.
But the analysts back then all thought the Commie playbook was - 1. deny the colonial bloc (Orwell's triangle) to the capitalists 2.Close markets and disrupt trade channels 3. Bring capitalism to its knees.
Back then the thinking was 'even if (say) the Bear becomes a horse' and becomes peaceful, the Chinese were still sparking insurgencies.
No one ever thought 'holy crap, what if the dragon becomes a horse and they become the biggest market in the world?'
Well...not the analysts. Someone in a board room, maybe.


*that's a pretty big mustache
**Secondhand story from a guy who fought in Bihn Dinh province
***why does that sound so familiar...hmmm.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:26 PM on September 27, 2008


I just finished watching Fox News Sunday (not a fan, just trying to follow the spin from the right). Of course Brit and Bill were all "McCain won" the debate. Kristol mentioned that he thought Obama outed himself as being too liberal, and that this is where McCain should be attacking him. On another part of the show, they had an absolutely slimy porcine GOP strategist of some sort (didn't catch the name) who was 110% into the usual right-wing media strategy of distortion, misstatements, lies (including the "tax and spend" mantra).

It seems that the GOP fog machine is about to be run wide open. The Bat(shitinsane) signal has been lit, and you'll see the McCain campaign and the great Right echo chamber just hammer on the lib'rul point, including in the debates. McCain has a crack team of clairvoyants trying to channel the ghost (or at least the ghostwriters) of Reagan into his campaign.

This time around, with the very real issues of Iraq and financial crisis facing Americans, they will hopefully be less likely to blindly consume that crap. We'll see...
posted by Artful Codger at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2008


McCain doesn't like Ike facts
posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2008


If debates are about recycling campaign stump speeches, hammering away at stock talking points and giving lectures that sort of fit the question asked then, yes, McCain won. But that's not what they are about. They are supposed to be about dissecting the issues and showing who has a better grasp of them. And/or showing the viewers what the candidates believe are the solutions about the issues. I counted at least two, maybe four, times where McCain got lost in his thoughts while talking and had trouble coming back to the answer he was trying to give. That's kind of scary. And he looked downright burnt out, complete with bloodshot eyes, by the end.

Regarding Vietnam. Sadly, I do sort of believe McCain has a chip on his shoulder about that, and wants to win something else besides a senate seat to prove he's a winner. I'm not faulting him for that- I give him a lot of credit for his service and his sacrifices in the military. But at the same time, trying to portray him as some kind of Real American Hero, boiling from within with the fires of self-sacrifice, falls short with me. I mean, he only joined the Navy to fulfill his family's wishes. He resigned from the Navy two weeks after his father died, because he wasn't going to get the promotions he wanted. He decided he could "do more" in congress. What "more" was that? One could infer that it was getting back at the world for the torture he was forced to endure.

I don't doubt that McCain would do everything he can for veterans- that's something the US hasn't done well enough. But the president needs to be about far more than that.
posted by gjc at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2008


McCain would do everything he can for veterans

That's debatable.

McCain’s Pro-Vet Image Clashes With Record

Veterans Groups Question McCain Voting Record
posted by homunculus at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2008


FiveThirtyEight.com, one of the most sophisticated pollwatching sites on the internet, just released their daily polling update. Based on rigorous number-crunching from dozens of polling firms weighted by accuracy, these reports break down the probability of various scenarios according to how often they occurred out of 10,000 simulations of the general election. And according to today's analysis:

McCain victory (270+ electoral votes): 19.50% (1,950 of 10,000)
Obama landslide (375+ electoral votes): 25.54% (2,554 of 10,000)

That's right. There's currently a better chance of an Obama landslide than any kind of McCain victory period.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Former Ambassador to Pakistan Milam: “I had a pretty good idea of what failed states look like, and it was not one.”
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on September 30, 2008


Make-Believe Maverick: A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2008


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