The last time Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sat down for a big public interview with Ron Fournier, it was 2008, at a gathering of the nation’s newspaper editors. Fournier, who had considered a role as a member of McCain’s staff, greeted the presidential hopeful with a box of his favorite donuts (“Oh, yes, with sprinkles!” McCain said at the time).
Six years later, the two sat down again, and this interview was surprising for an entirely different reason.
It’s hard to imagine that one of the most vocal supporters of sending troops to Iraq during the 2007 surge, now says that in hindsight, he would’ve acted differently if he were in charge.Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that had he won the presidential election in 2000, he would’ve been more hesitant about sending troops to Iraq.”You’ll find this surprising, but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops,” McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper and Ron Fournier of the National Journal at a “Politics on Tap” event in Washington on Thursday.
In fairness, I didn’t actually see the interview, so maybe McCain was kidding and they all had a good laugh after the senator made the comment. But if this was intended to be funny, none of the reports reflected it.
McCain reportedly added, “I think I would have [voted the same way on invading Iraq], but I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny [as president]. I think that with my background with the military and knowledge of national security with these issues that I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.”
I’m not entirely sure what this means. McCain was a senator at the time. He had his “background” and “knowledge.” He was able to consider “the evidence that was presented at the time.” And McCain’s conclusion was that invading Iraq was a great idea.
Indeed, the Arizona Republican, who’s usually predisposed towards armed confrontations abroad, maintained his role as one of the war’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders, condemning anyone, including President Obama, who dared to call for the conflict’s end. For that matter, McCain is still condemning the president for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraqi soil, despite the fact that the senator has been wrong about practically every aspect of the debate since its inception.
“You’ll find this surprising, but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops”? “Surprising” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind, though this is a family blog and I’ll keep the more applicable words to myself.
As for speculation on what McCain might have done as Commander in Chief if the 2008 election had turned out differently, I’d recommend Rachel’s report from last fall.