McCain Hates War, Loves America (Video)

Hotline reports that the McCain campaign will launch this ad, titled simply “Safe,” today in “unnamed battleground states.” (Although I’m pretty sure that the states have names, since I know of no states without names.)

JOHN MCCAIN: Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war. When I was five years old, my father left for war. My grandfather came home from war and died the next day. I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW. Some of the friends I served with never came home.

I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are.

I’m running for President to keep the country I love safe.

I’m John McCain and I approve this message.

Granting that I’m not the target audience, this doesn’t strike me as a very effective spot. For one thing, the delivery is tired. It’s as if he’s getting the lines, one-by-one, from cue cards and doesn’t realize he’s being taped.

More importantly, the end is a non sequitur. He hates war and he’s running to keep the country — which, by the way, he loves — safe. I have no doubt these things are true. But how’s he going to keep the country safe?

Is hated war off the table? Or does he love the country enough to go to war to keep it safe even though he hates war? One presumes the latter. But, if that’s the case, what’s his point?

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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. Dave Schuler says:

    since I know of no states without names

    although it might be better for us all if some were to remain nameless.

  2. Ugh says:

    I see a counter ad where

    I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are.

    Is followed by the video of his

    bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

    comments.

  3. Brian K says:

    since I know of no states without names

    Perhaps not the states, but where the streets have no names.

  4. Dantheman says:

    I think this is an attempt at innoculation against the inevitable ad which compares his statements with Bush/Chaney/Rumsfeld statements in the same time period and shows him as fully supporting and echoing their positions on the Iraq War throughout. He’s trying to say that he’s not a crazy neo-con, as a contrast to the Administration. Unfortunately, he was closer to the neo-con views in 2000, and there is plenty of footage of this from debates then, so I am not sure whether this will work.

  5. Triumph says:

    I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are.

    Great–now we have some wimp-monster trying to adopt a Jane Fonda-loving, John Kerry-style of campaign.

    His surrender to terror is despicable.

  6. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    McCain is seriously misreading his base here. 5 years of Iraq war cheerleading from the AM radio crowd has created a significant population of Republican voters who actually do love war. They are pro-war in the most vulgar, unthinking sense. This ad will strike them as contrary to their beliefs. Not coincidentally, these are the same people who still approve of Bush’s job performance and constitute a noticeable fraction of McCain’s own supporters.

  7. Alex Knapp says:
  8. Beldar says:

    Awful ad! Dreadful!

    Poor production values. Syrupy music. And yeah, the copy sounds like it was originally written to be a 60-second ad, and the entire 30-second middle explaining “why I think we need to keep fighting, here’s how it ultimately leads to less war” has just been guillotined.

    He needs to run zero ads mentioning his POW history between now and mid-October. It’s an amazing story — but he’s wearing it out.

    Ugh. Grim, grim, grim.

  9. capital L says:

    “5 years of Iraq war cheerleading from the AM radio crowd has created a significant population of Republican voters who actually do love war. They are pro-war in the most vulgar, unthinking sense.”

    I call BS. That statement is as farcically, on-it-face ridiculous as someone saying “5 years of 5th column defeatism from the peacenik crowd has created a significant population of democratic voters who actually do want our country to lose in war. They are anti-war only in the most vulgar, anti-American sense.” The fact that you view your fellow countrymen in such zero-sum terms is depressing.

  10. Michael says:

    Is hated war off the table? Or does he love the country enough to go to war to keep it safe even though he hates war? One presumes the latter. But, if that’s the case, what’s his point?

    The point is that he was a POW, obviously. I mean, it’s entirely possible that you’ve forgotten about that fact during any period when McCain isn’t talking about it, so it’s important to keep reminding you.

  11. Fence says:

    If I recall it correctly, sounds awfully similar to FDR’s speech chisled in stone at the FDR Memorial.

    I think the subtext here is Yes, I know Bush and Cheney are pansies who would put your children into a war without sufficient basis because they don’t know or don’t care how bad it is. But in this case it just so happens that the Iraq war actually is justified even if my superior selectivity standard was applied, so trust me, we need to stay.

    Now most voters won’t think along the lines of what I am about to say, but just for fun, let’s try a new angle on this. So McCain is saying that he understands the cost of war and would be even more selective than Bush in using it. But if despite that higher standard he STILL thinks we should have gone to Iraq and still thinks we should stay there, then his JUDGMENT in assessing the actual facts relevant to deciding whether a war meets that standard is actually WORSE than Bush’s. At least Bush might have thought, well, the benefits aren’t all that clear and/or this might flop but what the heck, going to war isn’t a big deal.

  12. Steven Donegal says:

    Interesting that his list of the costs of war are all personal–nothing about the people who are most affected by war–those who live in a war zone. As a former fighter pilot, McCain probably doesn’t have much sense of the actual on the ground destruction that war causes or how it affects those involved.