It's Not Important? Context Is Always Important

Democrats and allies are jumping on John McCain for telling NBC's Matt Lauer that "it's not important" when troops return from Iraq. Period. There's no because. There's almost never a because when one side seizes on the comments of another. The context makes it clear that McCain is reiterating his position that the presence of troops isn't the issue; instead, it's the casualties they receive. The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack. Instead, though, in a conference call with reporters, in remarks by Democrats like Joe Biden, in a blistering statement by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, McCain is being portrayed as, inter alia, not caring one whit about casualties and deaths and chaos and certainly not about the families of troops who dealt with deployment after deployment. That's my reading, anyway. See for yourself:

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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