Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Democrats Plan McCain "100-Year" Attack Campaign

This entry updates my earlier post, "100 Years in Iraq? The Left Takes Aim at McCain."

That entry discussed a liberal veterans' group
attack advertisement against John McCain's so-called unending deployment to Iraq.

It turns out the Democrats plan their own smear campaign against McCain's statement on being in Iraq for 100 years, which was not a concrete committment of the U.S. for a century, but a projection of a minimal presence in Iraq for some duration, along the lines of America's commitment to Germany and Japan following World War II.

This distinction apparently doesn't matter to Democratic attack planners,
as the Politico reports:

John McCain is scheduled to deliver a major foreign policy speech Wednesday in Los Angeles, one with a heavy Iraq focus, but chances are Democrats won’t be listening. They’ve already distilled his views into an easy to remember formulation: 100 years of war.

It is a reference to an offhand remark made by McCain in January about the possible duration of the U.S. presence in Iraq, a comment that Democrats now portray as the equivalent of the McCain Doctrine.

Though it’s not exactly an accurate representation of McCain’s views, Democratic strategists view the “100 years” remark as the linchpin of an effort to turn McCain's national security credentials against him by framing the Vietnam War hero as a warmonger who envisions an American presence in Iraq without end.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama began citing McCain’s remark in Democratic debates not long after he made it and their campaigns have stepped up the focus in recent weeks.

On a recent conference call with reporters, Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s bulldog operative, mentioned four times in two minutes that John McCain “wants to be in Iraq for 100 years.”

“Instead of offering an exit strategy for Iraq, he’s offering us a 100 year occupation,” said Obama last week, in a speech marking the 5-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
It's hard to see how the Democrats can possibly make a winning issue out of this.

Just yesterday Spencer Ackerman,
at the American Prospect, argued that the power of Barack Obama's foreign policy message is that it transcends "the politics of fear" that has gripped Democrats in recent years, for example, with John Kerry's inability to break with the establishment foreign policy line in his 2004 campaign.

But what is this Democratic "100 years of war" formulation other than the latest iteration of the paralizing politics of fear that's immobilized the party and made it totally out of touch with foreign policy realities?

The Democratic Party needs to read the talking points of
their most committed antiwar bloggers and journalists, who at least have a better idea on how to market an otherwise retreatist foreign policy agenda.

As always, check Memorandum for additional analysis.