McCain Makes False Claim About U.S. Support For Troop Redeployment From Iraq
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had this exchange with host David Gregory on today's edition of NBC's Meet The Press:
GREGORY: As you well know, public opinion has turned sharply against the war. Sixty percent, according to recent polls, say the war in Iraq has not been worth it. Has this government lost the people?
McCAIN: I don’t think so, in this respect. Most of the Americans, when you’re asked, “Do you want to set a date for withdrawal,” say no. Of course they’re frustrated. All of us are frustrated. I’ve expressed my frustrations to you this morning. But they are not ready to face the consequences of failure by setting a date certain for withdrawal, and I believe that, that they are largely, although frustrated, recognize the consequences of failure.
GREGORY: There has certainly been a growing body of public opinion as well as conservative opinion in the media that has turned against the president in this war. ...
McCain, who some see as the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, has appeal not only to conservatives, but to many independent voters and so-called Reagan Democrats.
That appeal is tied to what many see as sincerity, or as he dubs it, "straight talk."
But this exchange with Gregory is an example of sounding sincere, even when you are not honestly portraying the facts.
"Has the government lost the people?" Gregory asks. A sincere response would be to acknowledge that support for President Bush's handling of Iraq has been at less than 40%, and sometimes much lower, for well over a year.
While those identifying themselves as Republicans still back the President, only 10% of Democrats and 28% of Independents offer their support, according to a CBS News poll taken earlier this month.
But McCain, while acknowledging that Americans are "frustrated" with the way the war is going, offers this bit of fact-challenged spin:
McCAIN: Most of the Americans, when you’re asked, "Do you want to set a date for withdrawal," say no.
And that's simply not true. In fact, a solid majority of Americans (57%) say they want to see the start of troop redeployment from Iraq within a year.
It's just a variation of an ongoing theme from the Bush Administration and its friends in Congress and in the media, to imply that those who support troop redeployment are outside the mainstream. It's why, for example, conservatives have so blatantly attacked Connecticut Democrat Ned Lamont and his supporters. It's why you get ridiculous comments from the likes of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who said Middle East terrorists are "waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."
The administration and its friends want Americans to forget that the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had briefed the administration on a redeployment plan, too.
What made this worse, of course, is that Gregory didn't fact-check McCain. He just moved on to his next topic.
It's just bad journalism on the part of Gregory, who conservatives often criticize for being liberal. If Gregory is going to ask a question about public support for Iraq, he should have a solid idea of what recent polls say -- even have a graphic ready to pop up on America's television screens -- in case McCain suggests something other than the truth.
Instead, Americans were once again given a false impression about what the majority believes about troop redeployment.