At the same time, the Arizona Republican appeared to embrace the emerging consensus for withdrawal sometime within Mr. Obama’s two-year framework. “I think they could be largely withdrawn” in that time, but added that “it has to be based on conditions on the ground.”
Mr. McCain’s strategy, which he’s pursued since clinching the nomination, is to bore in on Mr. Obama’s woeful inexperience in national security policy. He has been to Iraq and Afghanistan many times, and has met and talked frequently with U.S. military leaders, including the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the surge. Until Monday, Mr. Obama had never talked with Gen. Petraeus in a one-on-one basis.
It is more than a little pathetic to hear nightly network news reporters talking about Mr. Obama’s overseas trip in terms of gaining needed national security experience and foreign policy credentials. As if a few days abroad can miraculously give anyone the experience to be commander in chief in a time of war.
The irony is that the much-improved situation Mr. Obama observed in Iraq and the lessons he learned in a few hours of briefings from Gen. Petraeus were the result of a war strategy the junior senator has repeatedly rejected and ridiculed throughout his campaign. The surge was approved by Mr. Bush but it has Mr. McCain’s name written all over it.
That strategy came out of numerous trips to the war zones, constant nagging to change a war policy that wasn’t working, and a heroic lifetime of military service.
Mr. McCain’s message this week, partially blunted by the withdrawal debate, is that Mr. Obama lacks the judgment and experience to think strategically in a time of war. One does not get that kind experience in a quickie photo-op tour of the battlefield.
Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.