Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Matt Littman Headshot

McCain Makes the Biggest Political Mistake of Our Lifetimes

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Mondale promised to raise taxes. Dukakis was in the tank. Kerry was for the war before he was against it. All mistakes, mistakes that should never have been made and errors that turn the course of an election. We hear about them all the time. But now, just as the memory of Bill Buckner's error took a backseat for Red Sox fans when their team finally won the World Series, John McCain has made the biggest mistake in politics, an error of such magnitude that he has probably cost himself a shot at the White House.

Senator McCain, knowing that he held an edge on Barack Obama on the "Commander in Chief" question, badly overplayed his hand. He taunted Senator Obama on his lack of foreign policy experience and he challenged Obama to go to Iraq. He sneered at Obama for formulating an Iraq policy prior to traveling to the war zone. He even offered to go with him to Iraq, as if Obama needed his hand held by the man with military experience.

McCain wanted the public to believe that Obama was a novice, a whipper-snapper who would jeopardize our nation's security.

Obama listened to McCain's attempted bullying and said, "You know what? I'll go to Iraq. And Afghanistan, Israel, Germany -- I'll make this a big foreign policy trip abroad. I'll show the voters back home that the world still really does love the United States, they just don't love President Bush or John McCain."

And Obama went abroad, with the world's press following him, clinging to his every word, oohing and aahing at his every jump shot, hoping to catch a glimpse of his every smile.

The trip: the biggest success of the campaign. The Commander in Chief question: negated. Heck of job, McCain.

In the meantime, with all of press following Senator Obama's tour, John McCain has been getting almost no coverage at all. When he does get coverage, he's zipping around in a golf cart with George Bush 41. Not exactly the message of change this nation longs for.

McCain, the former press darling who once referred to the media as "my base," is so upset that press is following Obama, he's become whining and petulant about it. It's as if McCain and Obama both had a party, and everyone went to the Obama party, while McCain found out he's no longer the most popular guy in school.

But perhaps, in one way, the lack of coverage of McCain is a positive. McCain keeps screwing up. His commercials are unbelievably bad. He frequently makes erroneous statements, often about Iraq. To date, he has been wrong about Iraq's geographical location (it does not border Pakistan), wrong about the alliances of Iran (Shiite Iran does not supply Sunni Al-Qaeda with weapons), wrong about the timeline of the Anbar Awakening (occurred months before the surge). The question has to be asked: Does McCain have a firm grasp of what's going on in Iraq?

McCain, of course, has been to Iraq, many times. But while McCain has gone off on Obama for not being there before stating a policy, McCain should remember one thing: he didn't visit Iraq before he voted for the war. He didn't go firsthand to talk to the military. He didn't go firsthand to check out whether or not there would be an insurgency. He didn't go firsthand to talk to see whether the people would support our invasion. Perhaps that why McCain had it all so wrong, and thought we would be greeted as liberators, and that the war would be short. He hadn't gone to Iraq.

Perhaps McCain learned a lesson from his lack of time in Iraq, and perhaps his recent visits did help him learn more. He was correct that the surge has had a positive impact. But it matters not at this point. Iraq is more stable than it was, and we are going to withdraw troops, whether it is on Obama's specific timeline, or on a more general "horizon," as the Bush Administration likes to say. Iraq doesn't want us there for much longer, and besides, bin Laden is not there. And it's bin Laden who is responsible for the death of the thousands of Americans and thousands more people worldwide. It's bin Laden and his supporters that we need to get.

All John McCain has done, with his childish taunting of Obama, is create a situation where Obama has now gone overseas; been seen with General Petraeus smiling, looking Presidential; been photographed with world leaders who seem excited by the prospect of an Obama Presidency, and shown, by images, that he fits in just fine on the world stage; and, of course, Obama has taken all the media attention with him when McCain is desperate for media coverage.

This trip would not have happened without McCain's taunting -- and so, Barack Obama would never have gone on this trip and looked this good if McCain had not made such a stunning mistake in urging him to do so.