The Republicans are denouncing ads from the Democratic National Committee and now from MoveOn.org that show John McCain answering a question about how long we might be in Iraq "… I don't think Americans are concerned if we're there for 100 years, or 1,000 years, or 10,000 years." The ads then make comments about McCain wanting the current situation in Iraq to continue. The Republicans claim these ads are lies which distort McCain's remarks.
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan called the MoveOn ad an "assault from the extreme-left playbook" and compared it to MoveOn's newspaper ads last year criticizing Gen. David Petraeus. The RNC also called on Obama to denounce the ad.
How can an ad that shows McCain saying the words that he actually said be misquoting and distorting him? The Republicans claim that by not also quoting what McCain said next, in which he imagined the 100 years to be like our long-term military presence in Korea and Germany in which Americans suffer few casualties, leaves a mistaken impression of McCain's views and intentions. I and my fellow Democrats are baffled by these charges. What difference does it make whether we foist most of the fighting off onto the Iraqis while our military people stay in their bases? We would still be continuing the occupation.
I have been giving this controversy some thought and decided that both sides are sincere but just have very different feelings about a long-term American occupation of Iraq. We Democrats, and according to the polls a majority of the American public, want us out of there completely as soon as possible. The vast majority of the Iraqis who live outside the fortified Green Zone do not want us there and our continued presence in the Middle East will inflame anti-American feelings among Arabs and Muslims and aid terrorist recruiting, leaving America less safe. The Republicans think that a long-term occupation is a good idea and think the general public would really not object as long as Americans are not dying in combat.
At least some in the main-stream media seem to agree with the Republicans on this issue. Here is the Associated Press (AP) stating flatly that the Democratic charges that McCain wants to keep us in Iraq for 100 year is a false suggestion that he wants a 100 year war. This taking of sides by journalists is quite unusual these days. For example, when reporting on Republicans claiming that Obama is a Muslim and attended a Muslim religious school as a child the US media (except for a couple of investigative pieces by ABC and McClatchy) did not declare these charges to be untrue. News stories about the issue usually just quoted the charges and then quoted Democrats as saying the charges were untrue as though the author thought both sides had good points to make, or something. When reporting on the Swift-Boat attacks on John Kerry in 2004 the media (except when in rare investigative mode) never said they were untrue.
These so-call journalists apparently are unable to determine whether charges that Barack Obama was raised as a Muslim are a lie. They could not determine whether the Swift-Boat attacks on John Kerry were smears or not. But a claim that McCain's vision of a long-term US military presence in Iraq without many casualties is a call for the continuation of the last 5 years of the US in Iraq –- that is something they are sure is untrue.