Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

New York Times refuses to print the McCain rebuttal to Obama

Last Monday, Barack Obama wrote an op-ed in the New York Times where he laid out his plan for Iraq. Marcie posted a sound rebuttal to the piece, going paragraph by paragraph, where she basically handed the rookie his @$$ in a sling. Drudge reports today that the New York Times has refused to print the rebuttal that John McCain penned. Allah over at Hot Air has posted the e-mail that turned down the op-ed:

Dear Mr. XXXXXX,

Thank you for sending me Senator McCain’s essay.

I’d be very eager to publish the Senator on the Op-Ed page.

However, I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.

I’d be pleased, though, to look at another draft.

Let me suggest an approach.

The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.

It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq. It would also have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the Senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.

I am going to be out of the office next week. If you decide to re-work the draft, please be in touch with Mary Duenwald, the Op-Ed deputy. Her email is XXXXXXXX; her phone is 212-XXXXXXX.

Again, thank you for taking the time to send me the Senator’s draft. I really hope we can find a way to bring this to a happy resolution.

Why are they refusing this again? A lack of specificity? Um, Obama's op-ed was anything but specific, as Marcie pointed out. But the mistake the Times made in refusing it is Drudge's gain. More people visit his site than read the Times anyway. Here is the text of John McCain's rebuttal piece:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Now what exactly was wrong with that rebuttal? McCain covered all the bases, directly challenges Obama on every point he made, and even adds that Obama isn't trying to win the war. He only wants to withdraw from the field of battle. The New York Times is facing a firestorm right now because their refusal to print this has sparked charges of media bias.

Look, Marcie did her best in crushing the Obama op-ed. The man is simply wet-behind-the-ears when it comes to foreign policy and the war, in general. John McCain penned a piece that hit Obama hard, and basically hoisted him up by his own petards. The New York Times doesn't want to print a well-penned, solidly thought out piece that is slamming the man of "Chope." (I can't take credit for that name. Credit Thomas Lindaman for that.) And the Times wonders why it has to continue slashing jobs from their paper. Might it have something to do with the obvious and blatant bias that people see daily?

Publius II


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