Monday, February 05, 2007

McCain has not been "entirely consistent" about the war.

Greg Sargent again on McCain inconsistency. This time he has to debunk Joe Klein:
In fact, he's been quite inconsistent in two key areas: First, in the amount of additional troops he's said are required in Iraq; and second, in his assessments of how the war's been going over the past couple years.

First, troop levels. Ever since President Bush unveiled his escalation proposal, McCain has been saying that he's "worried" that the 21,500 troop increase might not be enough and has been saying that he would have preferred to send more. But here's the thing: Before Bush unveiled his proposal, McCain himself actually volunteered that he thought a lower number than that would be enough.

He said very clearly back in October: "Roughly, you need another 20,000 troops in Iraq." Again, McCain himself volunteered that number. He did the same thing on another occasion. You can't volunteer a number that you say you think will work and then turn around and say that you're worried that a larger number might not work and that you actually wanted to send more than that larger number. That's not consistent at all.

Second, McCain's been quite inconsistent in his assessments of our progress in Iraq. The other day, for instance, McCain "grilled" General George Casey at a Senate hearing, blasting Casey by saying that over the past two and a half years, "things have gotten markedly and progressively worse" in Iraq.

But even a cursory bit of research shows that this criticism from McCain was completely inconsistent with his own past statements. During the same period that McCain said saw things get "markedly and progressively worse," McCain himself repeatedly offered optimistic assessments and even said several times that things were improving in Iraq. You can't say that things are getting better in Iraq before Election Day and then turn around after the election and say that things got markedly and progressively worse during the same time period. That's not consistent, either.

Look, Klein can go ahead and call McCain "honorable" and say that he's been consistent in that he supported the war before, and still does today. But that's holding the bar way too low. The fact is that on the above questions -- both of which are extremely important ones -- McCain has blatantly contradicted himself and has shown himself to be capable of political opportunism of the rankest sort. Is there no inconsistency or self-contradiction glaring enough to get pundits to stop presuming consistency and integrity on McCain's part?

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