John McCain Conference Call

Senator John McCain held another conference call with bloggers to discuss the ethics bill before the Congress, which he terms “a sham and a joke,” and the need to persevere in Iraq.

I was able to get in a question about both topics. With respect to the first, I inquired as to why the Republicans didn’t fix the problem when we had the majority and whether criticizing half measures when none were taken at all when we had the opportunity was credible. He agreed with the premise but says that it’s “why we lost the 2006 election” and that he “hoped we had learned our lesson.” He notes, correctly, that he stood along with several Republican Senators, including Tom Coburn and Lindsey Graham, on this issue for quite some time.

On the second issue, I repeated a version of my question from the previous call: What signs are there that we’re making progress on the political-diplomatic front, especially getting the Maliki government to work toward reconciliation.

He agreed that this has been frustrating but does now see some signs of hope. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt are finally getting involved, for a variety of reasons, notably fear of an Iranian-Shiite dominated state and a refugee problem. Further, he said it would be easier for Maliki to rally his people if they had greater confidence that we’ll be around for the long haul, given that they surely would.

I agreed but followed up asking how to get that message across when it seemed obvious to me that we in fact don’t have the political support to stay around for much longer.

He sees some signs that the progress being made in the Surge is getting reported and picked up by the American people. Further, he thinks General Petraeus is “quite a presence” and that he may make the difference when he testifies on progress in September. McCain fully expects that the situation on the ground will be “not much different” in that short a time but that he will be able to point to signs that we’re making progress and need “months — plural” to get the job done.

Further, he “doesn’t think, he knows” that there will be “catastrophic consequences” if we withdraw and that this must be impressed on the Democrats and the American people.

I followed up, again, asking whether he had any confidence that the majority in Congress actually cared given the politics of the matter. He hopes, having been in the service when America last lost a war, that his colleagues will ultimately put partisanship aside and do what’s right. He notes that parties don’t lose wars, countries do.

Once again, his confidence in his ability to sway overwhelming public opinion at this point is much greater than mine.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Campaign 2008, Congress, Iraq War, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Senator John McCain held another conference call with bloggers to discuss the ethics bill before the Congress, which he terms “a sham and a joke,”

    I’m confused, is he talking about the lobbying reform bill that the Senate voted on already?

  2. Triumph says:

    I agreed but followed up asking how to get that message across when it seemed obvious to me that we in fact don’t have the political support to stay around for much longer.

    He sees some signs that the progress being made in the Surge is getting reported and picked up by the American people.

    Did he evade the question here? Were you asking about IRAQI or US political support?

    It seems that former is the main reason for our failure. Iraqis simply don’t want us there. Sure, maybe politicos like Maliki give us lipservice, but the main problem there is the fact that there is no real government and the US military is not the proper entity to do the requisite political work.

  3. Ugh says:

    I see signs too, they say “get the fnck out now.”

    I mean, Bush, Cheney, Rice, the Defense Department and the Republicans in Congress have been blowing sunshine up everyone’s a$$ for five years now with “the occupation will pay for itself,” “I doubt it will last six months,” “we know where they are,” “Mission Accomplished,” “turning the corner,” “last throes” and countless variations of “progress” – and yet here we are. They’re like the Boy Who Cried Wolf in reverse – they keep telling us there’s no wolf, and yet we keep getting bit, and now people aren’t willing to stick around anymore to find out if they’re telling the truth this time – whose fncking fault do they think that is?

  4. Anjin-San says:

    I am afraid that the “Baghdad Stroller” has no creditability at all on this issue…