A question from tonight's Presidential debate: "It was once asked what lessons we'd learned from Vietnam. What are the lessons you've learned from Iraq?"
Short version of John McCain's answer:
John McCain is still fighting Vietnam.
Immediate thoughts on the ongoing debate:
It's amazing that foreign policy is supposedly John McCain's strong suit: he seems allergic to diplomacy, and unable to move beyond a rigid set of neocon talking points. It's no different than McCain's approach to domestic issues: lie, obsfuscate, condescend, repeat smears; lie, obfuscate, condescend, repeat smears. So far, he's lied about his opposition to earmarks, lied about his opposition to the Bush torture policy, lied about his position on deregulation and the growth of the federal government. He falls back a lot on emotional appeal and catch phrases ("I'm a maverick"). He's just played the POW issue. I don't know how the anecdotes will play-- there's an emotional appeal to them that's hard to resist. But their power, to me anyway, is diffused by his scattered, smug responses-- he doesn't seem all there. McCain is counting on sneers (literally-- look at his face when Obama talks) and emotions to carry the day; Obama is banking that his calm, reasoned persona, loads of intellectual detail and weave of larger arguments about goals and values will be persuasive. Obama answers questions, and McCain seems to dodge them-- he talks a lot in response in order to change the question, then uses the question to raise innuendoes about Obama. Obama just p'wned him on the issue of veterans' bracelets by pointing out that military families can honorably disagree about foreign policy without being "unpatriotic." The major lesson of tonight is that John McCain doesn't know how to campaign without suggesting his opponents are "unpatriotic."
As John McCain exaggerates about Iran, mispronounces Middle Eastern leaders' names and postures about Hugo Chavez, let me close with this question:
McCain obsesses a lot about his personal honor. How many more people have to die in Iraq before "victory with honor" is acheived? Isn't that the central lesson of Vietnam?