McCain to Obama: You don't have to re-invade Iraq to fight Al Qaeda, you know

In which Maverick shores up his support among conservatives and presses his huge advantage over Obama on national security in one fell swoop. Here’s the Messiah’s answer on Iraq last night, which recycles a strategy recommended by Baker-Hamilton and endorsed by our friends at the Times last summer. Rather than clear AQI from areas and try to hold them, we’ll pull back to regional bases to get our guys out of harm’s way, cross our fingers that the jihadis don’t make a comeback, and play long distance whack-a-mole with them if they do. Pay attention to Obama’s emphasis on threats to the homeland: He’s leaving himself wiggle room to decide not to assist the Iraqis going forward unless they can show AQI is planning terror attacks on the American homeland, as opposed to just Baghdad or Mosul. That’s a curious line to take for the left, which is normally comfortable intervening militarily where no American security interests are at stake (Haiti, Kosovo, soon perhaps Darfur), but then this is the guy who thinks zero troops in Iraq plus lots of troops in Afghanistan is somehow the magic combination to defeating AQ.

Here’s the obligatory McCain riposte, to which the Messiah responded this morning by reminding him that AQI wouldn’t be in Iraq at all if Saddam Hussein was still around to scare them off. As soon as he gets that time machine built, expect this problem to be solved. McCain’s rejoinder to the rejoinder: “Where is the audacity of hope when it comes to backing the success of our troops all the way to victory in Iraq? What we heard last night was the timidity of despair.” Gonna be a fun campaign.