On Monday, John McCain wisely urged Barack Obama to join him in visiting Iraq, something Obama hasn't done since 2006, when he declared the war lost. This is exactly what McCain ought to be doing: taking it to Obama on an issue that appears to favor Obama but in reality favors McCain.
In thrashing President Bush over Iraq since before we invaded, the mainstream media and the Democratic Party have succeeded in convincing much of the public that the war is a failure and that we must withdraw immediately. The propaganda effort has been so relentless that this perception remains to a great extent, even after the dramatic turnaround occasioned by the surge. But this is primarily because the media do their best to suppress any good news coming out of Iraq.
According to Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion researcher at American Enterprise Institute, while polls indicate a majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake (also thanks to the Dems and the MSM), they also believe substantial progress has been made because of the surge. Surprisingly -- you'd never hear this emphasized by the MSM -- only 18 to 20 percent of Americans consistently say we should remove our troops now.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted May 8-12 basically validates Bowman, saying 22 percent believe we should withdraw ASAP, compared to 48 percent who believe we should set a timetable and 28 percent who insist we should keep troops there as long as needed.
Admittedly, different polls show different results, largely because of the wording of the questions. An ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, asked, "Do you think the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means continued U.S. military casualties?" It's not surprising that only 41 percent answered yes because respondents, in order to answer affirmatively, were forced to say they favored a scenario that would lead to American casualties.
Can you imagine what public opinion would look like if the MSM were closer to neutrality on this issue and the Democratic Party were dedicated to the long-term best interests of the United States instead of its own partisan aggrandizement?
But even with the propaganda against the war and in favor of immediate withdrawal, a significant majority of Americans understand we do have a major stake in Iraq and that you can't precipitously withdraw without negative consequences.
These mixed poll results show at the very least that a significant number of Americans are open-minded and receptive to the notion that our national interest demands we remain there until we establish substantial order and that Iraqi security forces be able to maintain that order upon our withdrawal.
It's gratifying that John McCain is willing to make that case. He needs to make it every day, unapologetically, and smoke out Obama and the Democrats on their reckless recommendation that we withdraw immediately irrespective of the consequences.
The problem for Obama and Democrats on Iraq is that their worldview doesn't permit them to view Iraq favorably, facts be damned, because they don't believe in the mission, and they don't understand we are truly fighting our enemy in Iraq.
Iraq -- as al-Qaida makes clear every day -- is the primary battleground in the war on terror, and we are defeating al-Qaida there as we speak. Obama and company insist against reality that for all practical purposes, our enemy is focused solely in Afghanistan, presumably because the 9/11 hijackers trained there.
Obama, for example, has made clear that withdrawing from Iraq will "make the American people safer" and that he would institute an immediate withdrawal, even if our commanders on the ground tell him such a course would be disastrous.
This unspeakably arrogant position is embarrassingly wrongheaded, and McCain must continue to articulate that our effort in Iraq is central to our successful prosecution of the war. Indeed, it's difficult to understand how reasonable people can divorce one from the other -- yet the entire Democratic Party and the MSM do so routinely.
As others have noted, with his current gaffe-per-day performance, Obama is revealing himself to be quite the neophyte on foreign policy. John McCain needs to fix on and exploit that weakness and, conversely, showcase his own strength in this area.
McCain's tough and direct statement that Obama "really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq, and he has wanted to surrender for a long time" is a refreshingly promising start and one he ought to build on through November. Ultimately, America's security depends on it.