No amount of spin is going to take this one away. At a town hall meeting today, John McCain finally admitted it – that we’ve been involved in Middle Eastern politics for the last 50 years and beyond because we have to get our oil out from under their sand.
“My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will — that will then prevent us — that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East,” McCain said.
The clear implication here is that we have sent our men and women into conflict over oil, repeatedly. Which is an uncontroversial statement. But in the context of the current occupation of Iraq, and the multiple justifications and rationalizations for that war, it’s a deadly statement.
Now, McCain has already run to his base, the media, to try and clarify the remark. And promptly made it worse:
““The expected GOP nominee sought to clarify his comments later, after his campaign plane landed in Phoenix. He said he didn’t mean the U.S. went to war in Iraq five years ago over oil.
“No, no, I was talking about that we had fought the Gulf War for several reasons,” McCain told reporters.
“One reason was Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, he said. “But also we didn’t want him to have control over the oil, and that part of the world is critical to us because of our dependency on foreign oil, and it’s more important than any other part of the world,” he said.
“”If the word ‘again’ was misconstrued, I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons, and that’s all I mean,” McCain said.”
He claims he was talking about the Gulf War, and yet the entire conversation during the town hall prior to the remark was about the current occupation of Iraq, and at no time was Gulf War I ever brought up.
John McCain is a bad campaigner. Just the other day he had to back off his ignorant comment that the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because of Congressional earmarks instead of faulty design. But this remark has the potential to stick with him. Chris Matthews was apoplectic:
“You know, if somebody else were to say that, they would be accused of being a communist, or radical, or a leftist…for John McCain, a war hero, to say that we’re fighting in the Middle East to protect our oil sources is an astounding development.”
In a time when everyone agrees that we must reduce our dependence on oil, saying blithely that America routinely sends soldiers over to the Middle East to grab their oil instead of “democracy promotion” or protecting Israel confirms many suspicions. Heck, Alan Greenspan said it in his recent book. But if this simple fact wasn’t so hidden from the public, if the fluff was stripped away, we’d be debating the decisions to go to war in an entirely new context. Not to mention the decision to continue with a carbon-based economy.
This is a gaffe that actually began its life in the traditional media, which makes it different. It took weeks for anyone to confront McCain on whether he called his wife a c**t, and even then it was an audience member at a town hall who was promptly thrown out by the police and the Secret Service. This is different – an unforced error which the media clearly noticed. If we weren’t so busy replaying old clips of “The War Room,” maybe we’d increase the pressure.
…Let’s be clear: this is most definitely “straight talk.” But considering that McCain has proudly supported almost every military action the United States has undertaken since entering Congress, including those in the Middle East, one can only conclude that he’s OK with sending soldiers to die in a resource grab.
That’s a good piece of information for voters to have.
Dave is a writer, comedian and TV/film editor based in Santa Monica. He is an elected member of the Democratic State Central Committee from the 41st Assembly District. He blogs on state and national politics at http://d-day.blogspot.com/