Anyway, 2008 is a long way off. Not necessarily in terms of campaign time, after all, candidates have already started gearing things up, but in terms of what the country and the world will look like in two years. Iraq could be a full-on inferno with 10,000+ US troops dead or Bush may have declared victory and bugged out. There's no way to know.
One thing that does worry me is that the Dem nominee will have to face John McCain. Lots of folks have said McCain will never get the nomination, he doesn't have the religious right's approval. Well, he's been addressing that. And I suspect unless somebody I'm not thinking about comes on the landscape, no Republican is going to stop him from becoming the nominee. I think McCain is a formidable, if not insurmountable, candidate. He is immensely popular among voters from both parties and independents, and most importantly, the media just absolutely gushes over the guy. Maybe not Rush Limbaugh, but just about everybody else up to and including Jon Stewart. Meanwhile our guys get compared to the President of Iran and I'm sure people are warming up the next round of Gore-Robot jokes. McCain gets to parade around with his bullshit "maverick / straight talk" image as some kind of bulletprooof suit.
So, I summed up my conversation with my coworker by saying something bad (meaning coverage) has to happen to McCain. The press needs to finally wake up and stop being his PR department, or we're going to have a tough time no matter who we nominate.
Well, I turn back to my computer and the first thing I read is that "something bad" might be coming courtesy of Bush and his reverse-Midas "Everything Turns to Shit" Touch. There have already been hints that the White House might be angling for McCain to be Bush's successor—but I'm not so sure McCain wants to be endorsed by these fuck-ups. His appeal is his "outsider" status. His phony "truth to power" disagreements with the D.C. establishment. Sure, I suppose McCain would appreciate any backrooom string-pulling, but nothing out in the open. Nothing like adopting McCain's red herring Iraq strategy and actually using it...
As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to “double down” in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.
“I think it is worth trying,” a defense official said. “But you can’t have the rhetoric without the resources. This is a double down” — the gambling term for upping a bet.
As Steve Benen says:
This strikes me as a spectacularly bad idea. But for the sake of discussion, let’s put aside the fact that this hasn’t worked before, the fact that this will put an unconscionable strain on the U.S. military, the fact that military leaders on the ground don’t believe this will work, the fact that Iraqi violence is likely to worsen due to the unpopularity of U.S. troop presence, and the fact that the Bush gang hasn’t any idea what they’d do if “double down” doesn’t work, and instead look at the politics for a moment.
In this scenario, if Bush actually commits to 20,000 additional U.S. troops, John McCain will almost certainly be terrified. Bush is gambling by embracing the policy, but he’s also gambling with McCain’s presidential plans.
Just a few weeks ago, McCain insisted that “we will not win this war” without additional combat forces in Iraq. It appeared to be part of a calculated strategy whereby McCain could separate himself from Bush’s failed policy by calling for additional troops he didn’t expect the president to send. As Robert Reich explained last month, this is a way for McCain to “effectively cover his ass. It will allow him to say, ‘If the President did what I urged him to do, none of this would have happened.’”
Except now Bush appears poised to do what McCain has urged him to do. If it doesn’t work, McCain will be left in an untenable position going into the 2008 race — he’ll have a strong degree of “ownership” of an incredibly disastrous and unpopular war as voters are making up their minds about who to elect as their next president.
And Digby adds:
“McCain is positioning himself to be Lyndon Johnson in this thing without even becoming president.”
Sending in more troops is a crazy idea, but it’s the kind of crazy idea that Bush is looking for. And it is the kind of crazy idea that will make the country turn on John McCain. I seriously doubt he ever thought it anyone would do this — and I doubt he thought through the political ramifications of calling for 20,000.
He’ll be in big trouble if Bush decides to do what he wants. By ‘08, this war will be a dead albatross around his neck. But then, McCain has always been too cutesy by half on this — he deserves to be strangled by his own arrogant posturing. Who did he think he was, claiming that he could have “won” this thing if only the country had listened to him. It was always unwinnable and he’s a lying, opportunistic piece of garbage. If Bush sticks the shiv in St. John’s back one last time before he leaves office, it will be poetic justice.
I'm not sure if the White House cares one way or the other about McCain—positioning him for 2008 or as Digby says "sticking in the shiv," I think they are swingling blindly on Iraq right now, but McCain may be poised to be the one who pays the biggest (political) price.
UPDATE: Not to be taken tooo seriously, but I found this comment at Kevin Drum's interesting...
At the risk of getting lumped in with Bill Frist making diagnoses via video, McCain looks to be using tricks old men use to make it look like they still have it (ex. short bursts of energy when the cameras are rolling). This is obvious to healthcare providers now. We see it a lot when the patient senses we are about to recommend to his (it's almost always a man) family that they take his car keys). It will be obvious to everyone in two years.