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Thursday, Sep 4, 2008, 8:29 pm

Wait a Minute. Aren’t We Still at War?

By Jeremy Gantz

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Halfway through McCain's speech, I jotted this down:


I really think November is going to come down to those two equations: persuading undecided voters that John McCain is more American than Barack Obama, and that Obama is nothing more than ambition and self-love. Forget policy. Expect the P.O.W. story to be repeated ad naseum...

My favorite part of his speech was when it ended, and this song blasted me out of drowsiness. I hesitate to even praise it, for fear it might aid Sarah Barracuda's newfound career.

But what a flat speech, a scattered and superficial tour through unsurprising territory (Palin, schools, Broken Washington, Tough Times, tax cuts, Vietnam, Country First, service) - with barely a word about Iraq! I nearly forgot we are at war in two countries. Unless I'm mistaken, these were McCain's complete remarks regarding Iraq:
I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn’t a popular thing to do...

Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petraeus, and the brave men and women he has the honor to command, that strategy succeeded and rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a wider war and threatened the security of all Americans.

The fact that we heard more about McCain's experiences in Vietnam, a war we lost more than 30 years ago, than about McCain's strategies for winning our two current wars is just plain bizarre. Not just a superficial speech, barely dealing with matters beyond autobiography and service, but a surreal speech, barely acknowledging Iraq - with no reference to Afghanistan. Unbelievable myopia, clearly calculated to avoid reminding a war-weary public of the massive challenges facing U.S. troops in both countries.

The only surprising thing John McCain said tonight, before thousands of Republicans, was this:

We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption.

Was freshly sentenced Jack Abramoff watching tonight?

I must leave this convention. I should have spent the night here, where the most surprising thing all night would have been more than two Code Pink activists disrupting a speech.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked as a reporter for The Cambodia Daily in 2007. After graduating from Carleton College in 2004, he lived in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship, studying the intersection of ethnic politics and public education. His articles have also appeared in Chicago-area newspapers, Alternet and the Onion’s A.V. Club.

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