Sunday, July 06, 2008

Throwing dust in our eyes

I think Josh Marshall has it exactly right
This is the only backdrop against which to understand the current jousting over the semantics of the Iraq debate.

We have two candidates with starkly different positions. Barack Obama is for an orderly and considered withdrawal of all US combat forces in Iraq, a process he says he will begin immediately upon taking office. John McCain supports a permanent garrisoning of US troops on military bases in Iraq -- a long-term 'presence' which he hopes will require a constantly-diminishing amount of actual combat and thus an ever-diminishing toll in American lives.

This is, I believe, a fair and even generous description of each candidate's essential position. And the recital makes the key point clear: McCain's position is squarely on the wrong side of public opinion -- in fact, to an overwhelming degree.

This is why the McCain campaign spends what seems almost literally to be all its time (with tractable reporters in tow) scrutinizing the rhetorical entrails of Obama's every statement trying to find some movement or contradiction or frankly anything that can be talked about to keep everybody's attention (press, commentators, citizens, precocious teenagers) off the fact that McCain's position on Iraq is wildly unpopular and even more what McCain's position actually is.

Because of this, on Iraq, McCain's entire campaign is based on a strategy of constant obfuscation -- a strategy that has become much more aggressive in the wake of what the McCain campaign is calling last week's "relaunch" with a new staff based around Rove proteges from President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
John McCain cannot hope to win if the voters actually think there is a clear difference between his and Obama's positions on Iraq. It is essential for him to obscure the difference. However, since the difference is so obvious, his distortions are blatantly ridiculous on their face. The only way he and his campaign can get away with it is by relying on the compliant media not to take sides in this "debate". He is relying on them to report the McCain's campaigns assertions that Obama is switching to McCain's positions without the smirk such a statement should produce.

And the media, beholden to their notions of objectivity and balance, are going along with the program.

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