Michael Gerson: Iraq Is the Issue

Michael Gerson has a fascinating Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post. He argues that Barack Obama’s record on the Iraq War is mixed and will be a weakness for him in the general election. I think Gerson is right. Here’s an excerpt:

“Obama will find — as John Kerry found in 2004 — that Americans are suspicious of a prospective commander in chief who votes against funding U.S. troops in the field.

“The Iraq war determined the paths for McCain and Obama. But there is a large difference between them. McCain eventually won his nomination because he showed political courage in the face of overwhelming pressure. Obama may eventually win his nomination because he surrendered to that pressure.”

I am ready for the debate about the War to be joined. McCain and Obama couldn’t be any more different. But that debate will have to wait until the Democrats pick a nominee. When that happens, expect the national conversation to change dramatically. The War will be front and center—as it should be.

“Pressure and the Prophet” – by Michael Gerson (Washington Post)


  • Brett

    The war should be front and center? What with all this abortion talk then? Is that not THE issue. And in regards to the war, I don’t think Americans want to be in the middle east for the next 100 years, so I’m pretty sure Obama has the upper hand there. It’s not his weakness, it’s his strength.

  • Denny Burk

    “100 years”? Nobody’s arguing that we need to continue the war in Iraq for a 100 years. That’s not what this debate is about.

    I still care about abortion. I’m also deeply concerned about our nation’s war policy. Being concerned about both things is not inconsistent.

  • Paul


    McCain famously said that he could see us being in Iraq for another 100 years.

    So, yes, this debate could very well be all about that.

  • Denny Burk

    McCain said that we could have troops stationed in Iraq for that amount of time, not that we would be fighting a war for that amount of time. That’s all the difference in the world.

    We’ve had about 40,000 troops in South Korea and about 100,000 troops in Germany for the last 50 years. Their presence there has been relatively uncontroversial for Americans because there hasn’t been a war. They’re just there for strategic reasons. That’s all that McCain was suggesting for Iraq. He wants the war to be completed as soon as possible.

    To say that McCain wants to have a war in Iraq for the next 100 years is simply an inaccurate portrayal of what he said. The debate is not about whether or not we’ll be having a war in Iraq for the next 100 years. Nobody’s arguing that case.

  • Lucas Knisely

    That is what happens when an experienced military mind like McCain says something to a bunch of non-military folk.


  • Russ


    No, that is what happens when a citizenry starts to wake up to the failures and atrocious errors caused by a Wilsonian idea of making the world safe for democracy. It also happens when Christians stop worshiping the state and the militarism that accompanies it. How many dead Americans will it take for this idea that we are accomplishing something in Iraq to die a painful death? How many borrowed dollars will it take for us to overthrow more sovereign governments and kill more or their citizens while simultaneously spending our way to a financial disaster?

    Denny, you may be right about the exact meaning of McCain’s comment about 100 years in Iraq, but the fundamental message he is sending is that he has no problem sending America’s men and women into harms way for money and oil.

    I also think a debate over the war is good and that Obama’s view is a strength. The only place it is a weakness is among the shrinking neoconservative, dare I say it “warmonger” base. Obama may be mixed on the war, but as a VERY conservative Christian I’ll take his mixed view over McCain’s any day.(Although I could personally never vote for either one).


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