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May 21, 2008

Is McCain Losing the Iran Debate?

Noah Pollack over at Commentary thinks that McCain is losing the Iran debate with Obama. He gives two reasons:

1. It seems to me that it’s a victory for Obama. The Iran debate is being defined as one of diplomatic engagement versus diplomatic isolation, with Obama presenting himself as the bearer of a new strategy while McCain is portrayed as obdurately insisting on the approach of the Bush administration.


2. Why is McCain allowing himself to be dragged into a debate about presidential-level diplomacy, when the more important question — and the question whose answer is more politically favorable to McCain — is whether diplomatic engagement will actually get anything accomplished? McCain should be asking Obama what concessions he realistically thinks he’s going to get from the Iranians upon going hat in hand to Tehran.

He concludes that the issue is "a diversion that does no favors for McCain." I disagree. This isn't a about "engagement versus isolation." It's about naive appeasement masquerading as progress. Obama is fully embracing his propaganda and casting himself in the role of magic Peacemaker. But sitting down with Iran will get us nothing (except a self-satisfied leader, probably waving a piece of paper and hooting about "peace in our time") and give Iran exactly what it wants: more time to continue its nuclear development.

Even Obama's campaign recognizes the damage his "talks without preconditions" does to his image. Now they're busily trying to rollback his statement before the general, saying that he didn't actually mean "unconditionally" and that he didn't really mean he'd meet with Ahmadinejad.

As far as McCain finally, finally taking a swing at one of these nice easy pitches that Obama likes to give him, it's about damn time. Obama spent a significant portion of one speech explaining that McCain was being foolish because Iran is not a serious threat only to have to come back the next day and say, "Uh, what I meant was that Iran is a grave threat...the, uh, opposite of everything I said yesterday." Thank you, Senator Obama, for doing what Democrats do best: saying the first thing that pops into your head and having to nuance it away later.

So, is McCain losing the Iran debate? Not now, and certainly not in the general where Obama's foreign policy naiveté will be on full display to nicely contrast with McCain's foreign policy strength.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:03 PM

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