You, On Iraq

In that new NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll, a bare majority, 52%, want troops withdrawn by 2009. But you are not certain whether Hillary Clinton or John McCain, and, to a lesser extent, Barack Obama, is most capable of achieving that end. 43% of Americans say they want the troops to stay until the situation is stable.

Unfortunately, most Americans probably want both, not being entirely aware that option (a) would in the intermediate produce chaos that might lead to option (b); and the only way for a solution that accomplishes withdrawal without bloodshed would be extremely expensive and extremely time-consuming. None of the presidential candidates are there yet.

So when John McCain says that most Americans want "victory" and not "defeat" in Iraq, he ought to be challenged a bit. But when Democrats say that Americans want the troops out now, they ought to be challenged a bit too.

People a heckuva a lot smarter than I are coming to believe that the fall elections will turn on who Americans trust to withdraw from Iraq responsibly... on the theory that John McCain and the Democratic nominee will essentially hold the same position... and will be arguing over tactics and the message sent by those tactics.