THE PLANK DECEMBER 3, 2009
First Read, which often has smart takes on the news -- it's far better than the Note -- has a smart take on John McCain's new status as partisan point man on foreign policy:
For those of us who followed nearly every minute of the 2008 presidential campaign, it's fascinating to watch how John McCain has become the GOP point person in arguing that July 2011 is a date certain that will embolden the enemy. For starters, McCain never called for more troops to Afghanistan until July 15, 2008 -- nearly a year after Obama; for McCain, Iraq was the center on the war on terrorism, not Afghanistan. Second, he never put up much a fight when the Iraqi government and Bush White House established a "time horizon" to withdraw from Iraq. And third, he himself talked about timetables during the campaign, saying that Maliki’s 16-month timeframe was “a pretty good timetable” and also saying that all U.S. forces would be home from Iraq by 2013. McCain would argue -- rightly -- that his talk about timetables was always tied to conditions on the ground. But that's also true for Obama's July 2011 date. Here’s what the president said on Tuesday: “Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.”
Of course, McCain is also doing the same thing on health care.