McCain Says U.S. Lives ‘Wasted’ in Iraq

John McCain stepped on his own presidential announcment on last night’s Letterman Show, saying that American troops killed in Iraq have been “wasted.”

Republican presidential contender John McCain, a staunch backer of the Iraq war but critic of how President Bush has waged it, said U.S. lives had been “wasted” in the 4-year-old conflict. Democrats demand the Arizona senator apologize for the comment as Sen. Barack Obama did when the Democratic White House hopeful recently made the same observation.

“Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be,” McCain said Wednesday on CBS'”Late Show With David Letterman.””We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives.”

McCain, who is the only one of the significant candidates for the GOP nomination not at CPAC, certainly isn’t going to win any points with the conservative base with this one. And given his staunch support of the war, he’s obviously not going to draw a lot of votes from war opponents. I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish by saying this kind of thing.

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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. just me says:

    I sometimes wonder if McCain has forgotten there is a primary, and that the conservative base tends to vote in the GOP primary.

    If he would really like to be president, he isn’t going to get there by playing maverick and pretending like there aren’t conservatives in the base.

  2. davod says:

    He will run as a third party candidate.

  3. Anderson says:

    The fiction that war is never a “waste” of lives is astonishing.

    Soldiers killed while riding in inadequately armored vehicles: a waste? Why the hell not?

  4. James Joyner says:

    Soldiers killed while riding in inadequately armored vehicles: a waste? Why the hell not?

    Not much doubt about that. It’s just not something one says if running for president. The myth that all soldiers are heroes and that all deaths in a combat zone are noble must be payed obeisance.

  5. Hes apologizing as fast as he can, but I think this will just add to his momentum (which is not heading in the direction he would want).

    He would have no chance of winning as a third party candidate, but he could definitely influence who the loser is. Even 5% would likely be enough to tip the balance.

  6. legion says:

    Indeed, I seem to recall Obama saying darn near the exact same thing a while back and being promptly pilloried by the right for it. It’s hard to see McCain making many friends amongst the base with things like this.

  7. not the senator says:

    It’s been mentioned on the left but have you noticed that there hasn’t been the frenzied blogswarm calling for an apology when McCain said the troops lives were “wasted” in Iraq that happened with Obama?

    What does this say about the difference between left and right blogs? Doesn’t this reinforce the meme that the right is constantly “scalphunting” and the left doesn’t do it as much?

    Interesting.

  8. Tano says:

    James,

    Thank you for articulating a central truth of conservative polemics, and an essential feature of the conservative mind.

    Paying obeisance to myths.

  9. Wayne says:

    McCain claims he was taken out of context. He still owes us a apology. I don’t like that a-hole anyway.

    The armor vehicle argument is B.S. It doesn’t matter how much armor you have it won’t be enough. The up-armor HMMV’s have cost more lives in accident then they have save. Although given a chance to get use to them that number will change.

    Accident in themselves are a waste of lives. However, lives given in a combat zone or training for war even if it is accidental is not a waste of a life. Without those sacrifices, we would not have the freedom that some of us cherish and yes they do deserve respect for taking those risks.

    It is disgusting to be slick and play the switch game with soldiers’ deaths. To switch the waste of one losing his life due to an accident or friendly fire and pretend it is a waste as it pertains to war and protecting this country is disgraceful.

  10. just me says:

    It’s been mentioned on the left but have you noticed that there hasn’t been the frenzied blogswarm calling for an apology when McCain said the troops lives were “wasted” in Iraq that happened with Obama?

    What does this say about the difference between left and right blogs? Doesn’t this reinforce the meme that the right is constantly “scalphunting” and the left doesn’t do it as much?

    Interesting.

    Don’t know-most of the blogs I read daily have brought this up, and those that asked for Obama to apologize have also said the same of McCain.

    Now how busy the comments are may be another argument, but the bloggers themselves have said he was out of line.