WASHINGTON—Team Obama pounced on comments about Iraq made by presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) on NBC’s“Today Show” on Wednesday morning, portraying him as “confused.” McCain said when it comes to keeping troops in Iraq what is important is causalities—not whether or not troops stay on an open-ended basis.
Obama’s Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and top foreign policy advisor Susan Rice on a conference call with reporters hit back. Rice, talking about McCain foreign policy used the phrase “real confusion” and said McCain is “confusing” and “confused.”
Is that a code for suggesting McCain is too old to understand what is going on?
Rice replied, “McCain has gotten it wrong, and not just once…I am not ascribing it to any particular function…I am simply pointing out a pattern that is notable.”
There is a question of whether McCain “ has a firm grasp of the issues.”
When it was my turn, I asked Rice if she realized that use of the words confused and confusing could be taken to refer to age. Obama will be 47 in August; McCain is 71.
“If you want to suggest another word for the same lack of understanding, misunderstanding,… they all amount to the same thing,” Rice said. There is a McCain “gap” with “reality” and “that is disturbing.” It is “hard to have good judgment if you don’t have a fact based foundation,” Rice said
Kerry jumped in. He said it is “unfair and even ridiculous” to “jump to the conclusion” that “somehow” this has to do with age. Kerry said there are “plenty of senators” older than McCain—he used Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) for an example who “know who the Sunnis are.”
Obama foreign policy advisor Richard Danzig said, “I don’t think it is a question of age at all…None of us feel inclined to back off.”
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest could not resist. “Now that we have straightened out any confusion about the use of the word confused, we’ll take the last question.
Which was about Obama’s judgment tapping former Fannie Mae chief Jim Johnson to lead his vice presidential vetting team. Will get to that in the next post.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) also weighed on McCain’s Today interview.
Emanuel said, "When asked this morning about American troops coming home from Iraq, John McCain said 'that's not too important.' Senator McCain, to the men and women who are serving their second, third, or even fourth deployment in Iraq, and to their families, it is incredibly important.
"Once again, John McCain has displayed a fundamental misunderstanding about the situation in Iraq, our strained military, and American troops and their families. The truth is, with more than 160,000 American troops in Iraq with no plan from the Bush Administration for a timely exit, Al-Qaeda reconstituting on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, and the American military strained beyond all appropriate readiness, bringing American troops home from Iraq is incredibly important. With each passing day, the more John McCain talks about Iraq, the more the American people are reminded of how much we need change in Washington - not more of the same from Senator McCain."
Emanuel’s statement was sent out by Sarah Feinberg, the communications director for the caucus. By the way, Feinberg is married to Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.
Pelosi Statement on McCain Comment That It Is 'Not Too Important' When Troops Redeploy from Iraq
Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in response to Senator John McCain’s comments on the “Today” show this morning that it is “not too important” when our troops can redeploy from Iraq:
"Senator McCain’s statement that it is ‘not too important’ when U.S. troops are redeployed from Iraq is yet another indication how out of touch he is with the effect the war in Iraq is having on the readiness of our military. Addressing the national security implications of the military readiness crisis ought to be considered as extremely important by someone who aspires to be commander in chief.
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said again yesterday that our military commitment in Iraq is hindering our ability to meet threats to our national security in places such as Afghanistan. Military leaders agree that the demands of frequent deployments to Iraq are stretching our Army to the breaking point, and that unacceptable strain is being placed on our troops, their families, and their equipment.
"For our military readiness, for the families of our brave men and women in uniform, and for our national security, America needs a New Direction in Iraq -- not the continuation of the Bush-McCain plan for an endless war in Iraq.”
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