Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation

It’s been a bad week for writing. Sigh.

But it’s been a great week for having one’s hopes squashed! So there’s that.

And there’s also the fact that I ain’t gonna be Laundromania’s bitch anymore. And that, my friends, is important.

Unrelated: The past couple of days I have been thinking about John McCain. Is it correct to say that McCain’s Iraq war policy is primarily a policy of presentation? In spite of his recent rhetoric about “winning” and “losing”—concepts which he leaves undefined—his intent is to ensure that the U.S. maintain martial (as opposed to economic or political) strength in the Middle East. One reason for this is that he believes a significant military presence is an insurance policy for Israel. More importantly, McCain wants to maintain the appearance of martial strength there because he believes it is the best way to influence—no, to threaten—Iran. Is it more complicated than that? If not, is McCain’s suspicion of Iran primarily related to his PNAC sympathies, or is there something else?



Yep. This has really been driven home by these fairly recent revelations – now being gleefully thrown about on the left side of the blogosphere – that McCain doesn’t seem to have any sort of firm grasp on what is going on in Iraq. Hitherto I think most people, including me, had sort of assumed that he was really on top of this issue and knew the ins and outs. If it ever gets traction that McCain seems to be somewhat less informed about Iraq than your average reader of the New York Times, then he’s utterly, utterly fucked.

I’m not sure that it’s that McCain doesn’t know what’s going on, though. His rejected editorial’s crap, but it’s crap because it’s mired in tactics—both war and campaign tactics—not because his facts are wrong. (They are misleading, however, as in his assertion that the Iraqi air force is ill-equipped, which is true enough, but true because the U.S. has been working to keep the IAF grounded by seeking perpetual control of Iraq’s airspace.) I would argue that McCain is probably both unprepared and the candidate himself is too unskilled a speaker. It’s a campaign that wants to create several rhetorical narratives of strength (i.e., foreign policy experience, Obama is weak, etc.), but it doesn’t have strong enough message discipline—extending all the way up to the candidate himself—to make it stick.

That’s not to say that message discipline is everything—having a definite perspective on the world helps; it helps too if you don’t have to lie about your imperial aims to be taken seriously—but it doesn’t hurt.

I think McCain’s going above and beyond the call of duty to try to stay on top of Iraq. My read on him is that he just has trouble processing all of it into a coherent vision, and keeping all the little numbers, dates, caveats, and nuances together in his head. In other words, he’s just not particularly bright, though admittedly better than GWB.