Monday, December 31, 2007

Biden on McCain in 2004 - "John's right" about Iraq

Back in May of 2004, Biden and McCain were together on Meet the Press.

On mistakes made in Iraq -


. . . One was the lack of sufficient troops there which allowed the looting to take place, which established kind of a lawless environment. I think any law enforcement person would tell you that the environment is a very important aspect of it. The fact that we island-hopped and left certain areas of towns and cities around Baghdad as well as in the Sunni Triangle alone. I think it's because we probably didn't make sufficient plans to turn over the government as quickly as possible and a level of expectation that probably was unrealistic, which led to a certain amount of disappointment, but a lot of it had to do with lack of sufficient troop strength at the time that "combat phase" was over.
So yes, it's true McCain has been vocal and consistent about this all along, even while he supported Bush for reelection.

Biden's response:
. . . Number two, too little power. John's right. Imagine if we had not treated the French--excuse me, the Turks with such disdain, that 4th ID would have come down from the north through the Sunni Triangle, there may not be a Sunni Triangle. As John pointed out, too few troops, looting, 850,000 tons of weapons left open, not able to guard them and then we went with too little legitimacy. . .

On how to turn things around in Iraq-

McCain: I believe that we have to make sure that we stick to the June 30 date. I believe we should accelerate the date of the elections. I think that many parts of the country, including in Baghdad, that we could have these elections. They may be flawed but the quicker we turn the government of the Iraqi people over to the Iraqi people, the more it will be then the insurgents verses the Iraqi government rather than the insurgents against us. And I would accelerate the timetable for the elections and I would certainly enter into the status of forces agreement so that we would know exactly the relationship between the U.S. military and new Iraqi government.

Russert: Senator Biden?

Biden: About the same as John. I would make this about the Iraqi people, not about us. Look, it's real simple. Why are we there? We're there now to make sure the Iraqis end up with a government. What kind of government? One that's secure, its own borders, is representative, is not a threat to its neighbors and does not have weapons of mass destruction. How do you get there? You get there by an election.

An election is going to take place, hopefully in November or December of 2005. What do you need to do that? You need more security and more legitimacy. . .

So back in 2004, Joe Biden recognized that security was a precondition for representative government in Iraq. The Democrats today have little patience for an increased troop presence that aims at precisely that. But back in 2004, there was much more acceptance among Democrats for the strategy that McCain then advocated, that is now working to reduce violence. So much so that many Democrats were excited about the prospect of a Kerry-McCain ticket. There is a lot of nonsense floating around about how McCain flirted with the idea of being the Dem's #2. The flirting was in fact from entirely the other direction, from the Democrats and MSM types like Russert. McCain gave his full support to Bush's reelection. I've long been an admirer of McCain, and my decision to vote for Bush's reelection in 2004 was greatly influenced by McCain's support. I imagine that I am hardly the only one for whom this was the case. Those who seem perpetually angry at McCain's supposed disloyalty to the GOP should consider that had McCain's endorsement was the one that mattered in 2004, and it mattered all the more because he was considered so highly by many moderates and independents. Had McCain been less enthusiastic in his support of the President, I was fully ready to write-in "John McCain" come the first Tuesday in November.

I wish Joe Biden well in Iowa. He seems like a pretty decent guy who has seen rough times in his personal life. He didn't vote to cut off funding for the troops, isn't in complete lock-step with the abortion lobby, and has more foreign policy experience than the three Dem front-runners combined. Contra Coulter, if Democrats had any brains they'd probably vote for Biden. And Biden's words of praise for McCain are just as true as they were back in 2004 ( sans the "vice"):

I think John McCain would be a great candidate for vice president. I mean it. I know John doesn't like me saying it, but the truth of the matter is, it is. We need to heal the red and the blue here, man, the red states and the blue states. And John McCain is a loyal Republican. God, he drives me crazy how loyal he is as a Republican as much of a friend as he is. We disagree on a lot of things, but I'll tell you, the fact of the matter is that we've got to bring together the red and the blue here. . . I'm counting on him being a more loyal American than he is a loyal Republican. And, John, I'm not so sure you're so happy about the Senate. I'd like to see you president instead of the guy we have now. . .

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