McCain: "Bringing Troops Home Not Important"

The Senator lays bare his real thoughts on continuing the war.

After over a year of campaigning, you’d think John McCain would have a sense about how to talk about the war in Iraq. His support for the president’s policy, and his deeply held desire to stay the course, is, after all, his signature campaign issue.

And yet, McCain still doesn’t get it.

For those who can’t watch clips online, McCain appeared on the “Today” show this morning, and Matt Lauer noted, “A lot of people now say the surge is working.” McCain immediately interjected, “Anyone who knows the facts on the ground say that.” Lauer responded by asking, “If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?”

McCain said, “No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine.”

To be sure, McCain has made comments like these before, most notably in response to questions about his stated willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years. He frequently emphasizes his belief that as long as Americans are not being killed or seriously injured in Iraq, he doesn’t much care when we leave.

But he’s usually not this clumsy and politically tone deaf. Bringing the troops home is “not too important”? For thousands of Americans in uniform and their families, nothing is more important.

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