Two readers differ with my characterization of John McCain's argument that talking about withdrawal from Iraq is intellectually insulting:

That wasn't temper ... that was someone who appeared to me to be passionate about winning the war. It was nice to see!

Another:

Actually, McCain took a good shot at Obama and scored.

Look, Obama has hitched his wagon to the Maneuver A Brigade Out Every Two Months schedule that is supposed to get us out over a period of 16 months. If I’m Al Qaeda and the Iranians, I ramp up my bombings and attacks on the Americans while they are withdrawing to make my Muslim audience think that the Americans are withdrawing under fire. This is Bo-Peep Warmaking and McCain is right to call the Young Lad on it.

McCain gets this. Obama doesn’t. Or, at least, he does intellectually but he isn’t telling his base voters the truth: once he is elected he will be forced by events to adopt Bush’s surge policy. Hand it to McCain-he the one who is being honest about what will have to be a protracted, painful withdraw. Barack is still peddling candy to his base voters.

It feels like the general election has already begun, doesn't it? On one point: it seems stupid to me to hinge our strategy on how al Qaeda will spin it. However we withdraw from Iraq - and McCain wants us to withdraw as much as Obama - al Qaeda will say it's a victory for them. What really matters is whether it is a victory for them, how we withdraw prudently, how we get the Iraqis to step up (or not), and whether the costs and blowback of occupying Iraq for the rest of our lives are worth avoiding the unrest that would follow our departure.

Iraq is not Germany. It isn't even Kuwait. If McCain doesn't understand that, then he's the one who's insulting our intelligence.

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