In an interview that will air Sunday night on CBS’ 60 Minutes program, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said that he misspoke when he made optimistic comments about the security situation in Baghdad. “Of course I am going to misspeak and I’ve done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future,” says McCain. “I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that’s just life. I’m happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun.”

However, McCain still continues to voice support for President Bush’s troop surge policy. “I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I’d asked to do it, they would have said, ‘Under no circumstances whatsoever.’ I view that as a sign of progress,” says McCain. The Arizona senator has greatly hurt his presidential campaign by taking the position that the United States military needs to stay in Iraq, and McCain knows his position is unpopular, but he believes that it is the right thing to do.

John McCain still believes that the Iraq war can be won. “I believe we can succeed and I believe that the consequences of failure are catastrophic. I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. Failure [in Iraq] will lead to chaos, withdrawal will lead to chaos.” McCain has always walked a fine line between supporting the war, and criticizing the administration for the way it has carried it out. “I say that [President Bush] is responsible and I’ll continue to say he is responsible. Should I look back in anger, or should I look forward and say, ‘Let’s support this new strategy, let’s support this new general and let’s give it everything we can to have it succeed,’” McCain said.

I am starting to wonder if McCain’s resolve to stay in Iraq doesn’t have something to do with his experiences, and America’s failures, in Vietnam. The basic McCain position is that the Bush administration is a bunch of screw ups, and if he were put in charge, then United States would win this war. McCain has always wanted more resources put into the Iraq war. To me, this is starting to sound Johnson administration era thinking on Vietnam.

Maybe if what McCain is suggesting would have been done at the beginning of the invasion, it might have worked, but he is way out of step with both the realities on the ground in Iraq, and the political reality that he is facing at home. If McCain were to win the GOP nomination, and take a stay in Iraq policy into a general election campaign, he will get slaughtered by any of the top Democrats. The one position that seems like it will keep McCain out of the White House is his view on Iraq. Fascinatingly enough, this seems like the one position that McCain is completely unwilling to budge on. We have already suffered the consequences for having one stubborn misguided president. Do we really need another?

McCain quotes on 60 Minutes website.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at
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