All things considered, and that is saying an awful lot, things seem to be going pretty well in
some five-plus years and hundreds of thousands of shattered lives later. But just as the faces of many a right-of-center pundit break into Alfred E. Newman-like grins, a growing number of prominent long-time war supporters are having serious second thoughts that will give John McCain chest pains. Iraq
Take Byron York of National Review Online, who in a break with his peers finally acknowledges the war for what it is – a tragically misguided mistake:
"For many of us, the war was supposed to be about
national security and only about U.S. national security. It would be nice if we could make U.S. a better place, just as it would be nice if we could make Iraq a better place, but that was never a sufficient reason to go to war. The reason to go to war was to find and kill every last son of a bitch who had anything to do with 9/11. And that job was not the main focus in Afghanistan , and in any event is unfortunately not finished. Iraq
"One of the main reasons John McCain is facing such a tough job today is that we are now in the sixth year of a war that the president of his own party started by mistake. That's a major headwind when you're running for president; an error of that magnitude will exact a political price. Would anyone be surprised if voters say that they've had enough?"
Then there is Scott McClellan, who as a whiny White House press secretary lacked York's gravitas, let alone a conscience since he didn't mind being lied to when he was working for George Bush and giving the news media the finger.
Anyhow, McClellan has this to say as he vainly (in both senses of the word) tries to salvage his reputation while cashing in on his new book:"History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade
was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary." Iraq
Expect the trickle of conservative confessionals to turn into a flood as Mr. Twenty-Three Percent's term plays out.
Some of that will be the usual flurry of end-of-administration tomes like McClellan's, but this is not the end of just another administration but rather the death throes of the worst administration in modern American history. And a cowardly one at that as it dumps the enormous smoking turd of a far from finished war and the consequent train wreck of an economy on its successor.
There always will be pundits like Glenn Reynolds, whose widely-read Instapundit is the National Association of Realtors of the blogosphere.
Like the NAR, which sees only sunshine amidst the ruins of a collapsed housing market, Glenn only sees progress in Iraq and when there are setbacks, well . . . you'll just have to go elsewhere to read about the bad stuff.
You can bet your armored Humvee that more commentators like York will see the light, as well as Republican pols who are anxious to continue feeding at the Washington trough but face tough re-election fights if they don't break with Bush and McCain.
This "breakage" is only background noise at the moment but could become as loud as Bush's fighter jet landing on the deck of the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier that will give McCain those chest pains.
McCain's agita is not helped by the baby steps he is taking to distance himself from Bush.
While folks like York and McClellan and neocon architect and recent Barack Obama convert Francis Fukuyama see the war as a grievous mistake, all the presumptive Republican nominee can do is tut-tut about how the occupation was mishandled and other deck chairs were not properly arranged.
McCain will not -- and cannot -- break completely with the president. That would be like depriving he and his campaign of oxygen. This helps explains a closed-door fundraiser the other day where the POTUS was slipped in a back door like a police suspect avoiding a perp walk and later made a public appearance with the candidate that lasted less than a minute.
Let's be clear that McCain's Iraq war problems do not translate into votes for Obama. But every time McCain opens his yap hole about what a grand and glorious thing that the war is and no matter how many decades he tries to shave off of his 100 Years In Mesopotamia boner, there will be some conservative fresh out of the closet to upstage him.
Could Fox News ask for anything worse? Or Obama ask for anything better?