Robert Reich: McCain doesn't really want more troops for Iraq

He says he told him so in the green room of Stephanopoulos’s show. It’s just a ploy to keep the troops’ morale up while the country falls apart.

Except Reich doesn’t believe him. He thinks it’s a different kind of ploy — namely, plausible deniability for the coming massacre.

I think McCain knows Iraq is out of our hands – it’s disintegrating into civil war, and by 2008 will be a bloodbath. He also knows American troops will be withdrawn. The most important political fact he knows is he has to keep a big distance between himself and Bush in order to avoid being tainted by this horrifying failure. Arguing that we need more troops effectively covers his ass. It will allow him to say, “if the President did what I urged him to do, none of this would have happened.”

McCain is smarter on this score than Dems who intend to engage in post-Baker Commission “what we must do now” bipartisanship. It may make Dems feel relevant and important, but it will also make them complicit in the impending failure.

Looks like Pelosi’s not taking his advice. She’s scheduled an Iraq forum for House Democrats on December 5.

As for his point about McCain, if Iraq does fall apart, how eager will America be in ’08 for a candidate who thinks (or claims to think) Bush should have been more hawkish? If St. John’s going to take that position, he might as well back the “nuke Mecca” approach. He gets the same plausible deniability from it plus, at this point, probably a few extra votes.

Speaking of ’08, America’s mayor filed a formal statement of organization for his exploratory committee with the FEC this afternoon. Is he or McCain the man to beat? Neither, I think: it looks Romney’s running on a full-bore social con platform, and since he’ll be the only one in the race, I figure the scale tips towards him once he starts to get name recognition. He attacked McCain today (unfairly) for taking a federalist position on gay marriage, and that’s just the beginning:

This hatred [of McCain by movement conservatives] dates to McCain’s signature campaign-finance-reform legislation, co-sponsored with liberal senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, which severely limited the large-sum individual and corporate contributions that had previously fueled Republican campaigns.

But that’s not their only problem with the Arizona senator. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts (although he later voted for making them permanent). He has supported gun-control legislation. He led the “Gang of 14” senators in preventing the so-called nuclear option, a change in procedure that would have allowed Republicans to confirm conservative judges over Democratic opposition. He voted for federal spending on stem-cell research, and opposes a federal ban on gay marriage. He is one of the most pro-environment Republicans on Capital Hill, supporting the Kyoto Treaty and even co-authoring a failed bill to limit carbon-dioxide emissions. And, in a move tailor-made for attack ads, he co-authored the “amnesty-by-another-name” immigration-reform legislation — with Ted Kennedy, no less — that dominated right-wing talk radio much of the year.

The question is whether his Mormonism is going to scare people off. I didn’t think it would initially if only because I thought polygamy was extinct in Utah except for the Jeffs cult and a few other kooks. The Utah AG admitted today, though, that his office basically looks the other way when it comes to bigamy and WaPo had a page-one feature on polygamists who are trying to use Justice Kennedy’s follow-your-bliss majority opinion in the Lawrence case to torpedo bigamy laws altogether. No wonder Romney wants an amendment to ban gay marriage — that’s the only way he can kill the polygamy issue before it comes to kill him.

It’ll all work out, I guess. Hillary crapped away her entire $30M campaign war chest on a race she could have walked away with for nothing, so no matter how stupid we get, hope springs eternal that they’re stupider.