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Iraq's Radical Impact on American Politics

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The reason why President George Bush’s numbers are wallowing in the low 30s, why he's so unpopular abroad, and why there’s so much anger against him in his own country is for the simple reason that he got us into a major mess in Iraq. Every Democratic candidate and many of the Republicans at one time in the field, knew that in order to have any chance of winning the White House they had to distance themselves from President Bush and this Iraqi conflict. Senator John McCain, as this week’s nomination confirmation proved, is the exception because he is, and has been, the “war candidate.”

Senator McCain's unyielding support for our President was paid huge dividends when Mr. Bush glowingly endorsed him for President. No matter how Bush's critics spin this, McCain will only benefit from the President's huge financial war chest and his potential to unify the party around the Senator from Arizona. Most Americans have known for sometime the Senator's unapologetic support of this war and how he has every intention of continuing it on his watch if elected. It is necessary that McCain distinguishes himself from Obama and place his fortunes on the success or lack there of in Iraq.

McCain believes that his road to the White House is paved by victories in Iraq. If the insurgency is quelled by the troop surge which McCain supported, he will look like the perfect Commander in Chief for today’s dangerous world. If, however, the mess in Iraq gets messier, than his support of the war and troop surge will show he is merely “Bush Light” or “Bush Heavy” depending on how you look at it – and frankly, even Republicans don’t want that right now. Americans want change; change in leadership, change in policies, and especially change in Iraq.

If Americans are voting for McCain because of his support of the war, then will his election in November mean that President Bush will leave office with approval ratings above 60%? Of course not! So I am shocked to see that so many people voted for a candidate that is supporting an unpopular war and president. This proves to me that conservatives are rallying around the Republican nominee because they do not want a liberal Democrat running the country. Unfortunately though, it’s difficult to win an election by focusing on the failures of the other guy. John Kerry proved that in 2004.

Bush’s stubbornness and unwavering support of the war shows that he believes that history will show, without doubt, that he was right about Iraq and the world will be better because of our going into Iraq. McCain’s decision to hop on board with Bush and the Iraq bandwagon shows that he too thinks the war was a good idea, that the situation in Iraq is improving, and that Bush was far more brilliant and wise than given credit for by the media and the American people. Shocking strategy considering that there’s a perception by the media elite that people are tired of Bush and the war.

There’s no question that the conflict, the often times acrimonious relations there, the intelligence, death toll of American and Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi citizens, and general situation on the ground in Iraq has drastically improved. But have we made such an exponential turnaround in Iraq that McCain has become the genius who all along was the savior the Republican Party and the country needed? Are we really voting for him based on the success we're seeing lately in Iraq? Because if so, that is a perilous road to travel down, because nobody can be sure how this war will go. And truthfully, things have turned around in an unbelievable way there – the issue for McCain is whether or not it continues through this presidential election.

I can’t understand how a man who ties his candidacy to the legs of a perceived unpopular president and an unpopular war is suddenly popular. Are the polls wrong? Are the people lying? Were the other Republican candidates just that bad? Or is McCain just that good?

All these questions are arising because many pundits are finding it difficult to explain how a man who is supposedly a lighting rod by their standards, and questionable by independents, can run a winning campaign based on what the media and liberal elite terms a dreadful war. Many are just amazed that his strategy is working and gaining momentum; just six months ago it looked like the riskiest idea in the world to place his winning the presidency on this war.

But now that it’s worked, McCain just might ride this crazy war all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue. Who knows? Certainly, not me. And it looks like nobody else will know for sure until at least November. Well, probably not then either.

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