After the events of the weekend, and taking into account the McCain camp’s response to Maliki’s statements, it seems that John McCain now plans to run his campaign almost entirely on the surge, and his claim that he was right about it and Obama wrong.
Even taking that claim on its own terms, though, is that enough?
McCain implicitly concedes that he was wrong on getting into the war itself (concedes in as much as public opinion is firmly on the side of his being wrong and he realizes that). He’s also now all but forced to concede to Obama’s stand on the timing of withdrawal, in as much as the Iraqis are now being clear that they want US troops out in roughly the same period of time.
So he goes to the public with Obama being right and him wrong on starting the war in the first place and with the timing and approach to getting out — but along the way he was right about the surge, so he should be president?
Maybe the hypothetical Barack says to the hypothetical McCain, “Fine, I’ll take the hit on the surge. And you cop to being wrong about getting us into this mess in the first place and supporting it for years. And we’ll call it even.”
I find McCain’s claim to being ‘right about the surge’ dubious but arguable. But even if you concede that, it leaves McCain talking about the past and conceding the real issue that is before the public.