Winner of 2008’s “most foolish speech by a major politican” award

Although the year has seven more months, I believe we can give this award to Senator John McCain for his speech on 14 May at at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.  Goethian wins an award for the “best summary“, posted at Matthew Yglesias’ blog:

  1. Get elected.
  2. ???
  3. Victory!

Although we must endure many more speeches before the election, this speech might tell us all we need to know about McCain.  Excerpt from the prepared text:

So, what I want to do today is take a little time to describe what I would hope to have achieved at the end of my first term as President. I cannot guarantee I will have achieved these things. I am presumptuous enough to think I would be a good President, but not so much that I believe I can govern by command. Should I forget that, Congress will, of course, hasten to remind me. The following are conditions I intend to achieve. And toward that end, I will focus all the powers of the office; every skill and strength I possess; and seize every opportunity to work with members of Congress who put the national interest ahead of partisanship, and any country in the world that shares our hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous world.

(1)  By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom.

(2)  The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension.

(3)  Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.

(4)  Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders.

(5)  The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.

… I am well aware I cannot make any of these changes alone. The powers of the presidency are rightly checked by the other branches of government, and I will not attempt to acquire powers our founders saw fit to grant Congress. I will exercise my veto if I believe legislation passed by Congress is not in the nation’s best interests, but I will not subvert the purpose of legislation I have signed by making statements that indicate I will enforce only the parts of it I like. I will respect the responsibilities the Constitution and the American people have granted Congress, and will, as I often have in the past, work with anyone of either party to get things done for our country.

No mention of the people of Iraq, who might have some influence on the war’s outcome.  No mention of Iraq’s neighbors, who might desire, like us, to influence that outcome.  No mention of how he will achieve victory.

McCain hopes that he can achieve many good things.  How nice.  No mention if each of us gets a pony too.  This is the Nixon gambit:  during the 1968 election Nixon hinted that he had a plan to end the war in Vietnam. 

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other posts about the Presidential Election

  1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other  (7 February 2008) — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.
  2. What do blogs do for America?  (26 February 2008) — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern. 
  3. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012  (1 March 2008) — What is next in Iraq?  None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future.  McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ).  On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…
  4. Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay (3 March 2008) — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them. 
  5. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents? (21 March 2008) — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.
  6. More recommended reading (4 April 2008) — About the story ”Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010“, New York Sun (4 April 2008)
  7. American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties  (17 May 2008)

Some valuable articles about the candidates and the election

  1. John McCain’s “100 Years” — putting the controversy to rest“, Moira Whelan, posted at Democracy Arsenal (30 April 2008) –  This gives McCain’s actual words on the war, at various times and places. 
  2. Barack in Iraq“, Michael Crowley, The New Republic” (7 May 2008) — “Can he really end the war?” 
  3. Is Obama the Apostate, or is Bush? A Reply to Luttwak“, Prof Juan Cole, posted at Informed Comment (15 May 2008) — Is Obama an apostate from Islam?  How is Obama regarded by Muslims in other nations?

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