Famously, Richard Nixon was reported to have a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war. (Nixon didn’t say that explicitly, but he didn’t exactly discourage the notion when it was publicly reported.)
Well, it turns out John McCain claims to have a secret plan to catch Osama bin Laden, and he is saying that explcitly:
Appearing on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, the Arizona Republican was reminded that he had vowed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice and was asked how he would differ in that task from President Bush.
Initially saying that he would not “telegraph” the specifics, McCain declared, “Look, I know the area, I’ve been there, I know wars, I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden — or put it this way, bring him to justice… We will do it, I know how to do it.”
The writer at the Huffington Post quite sensibly wonders why John McCain hasn’t passed on his special knowledge to his friend who resides in the White House, since everyone agrees that the sooner bin Laden is found, the better. McCain has been saying all week that Barack Obama is willing to lose a war in order to win an election. Given McCain’s assertion that he has special knowledge about how to catch bin Laden, but plans to keep it a secret until he gets into the White House, he seems to be exposing himself to a charge that he is willing to allow Osama bin Laden to remain free for several more months in order to win an election. The absurdity of trying to imagine Barack Obama making that attack is all the evidence we should need about which of these two men is running the more classy and respectful campaign.
Aside from the sheer silliness of suggesting that you have a secret plan to catch bin Laden because you “know the area” and “know wars,” why isn’t his campaign being questioned about this by the press? What on earth is he talking about? He “knows the area”? Does he spend his free time studying maps of the topography of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border? (Maybe not, since he referred to a few days ago to the nonexistent Iraq/Pakistan border.) When he says that he “knows how to win wars,” is he suggesting that being a navy pilot and POW has given him more expertise on winning wars than the generals who are now overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the special forces troops who are presumably hunting for Osama bin Laden as we speak? Isn’t that — dare I say it — kind of an insult to the men in uniform?
I really don’t understand why Barack Obama attracts weeks of media scrutiny when he speaks in a slightly more nuanced way than usual about his Iraq withdrawal strategy, yet when John McCain says stuff like this which seems to be pure fantasy about how he will implement a secret new strategy which will guarantee the capture of Osama bin Laden, no one even notices. Is it because he served in uniform and suffered heroically as a prisoner of war, or is it because Republicans are automatically given the benefit of the doubt on military matters, or is it because the McCain campaign is more willing than the Obama campaign to exploit these opportunities, or is it some combination of all these things?
I really don’t get it — the guy is going around saying he will cut taxes AND balance the budget by the end of his first term, and guarantee the capture of Osama bin Laden to boot because he has special knowledge and strategy that he doesn’t want to “telegraph,” and few people in the press bother to point out that he hasn’t offered even a vague explanation of how he will accomplish these things.
I’m getting sick of writing about John McCain here — I’m getting sick of writing about politics in general — but I can’t help but comment on these absurd things when I see them…