In a post criticizing Obama’s shifting 16-month goal posts, Mark Levin writes, “In my opinion, McCain has not come closer to Obama’s position. McCain’s position, like Bush’s, has always been a conditional one, based on circumstances/conditions not ideology.” Leaving aside the unmistakable ideological component on both sides of the debate, it’s a fair enough point as far as it goes. Presumably, neither Bush nor McCain would be advocating a faster drawdown of troops if things were getting worse (how tenable their position would be in such conditions is another matter). They are reducing the numbers on the ground in response to conditions in Iraq, as envisioned during the planning of the surge.
But Bush and McCain’s talk of drawing down has gotten much more explicit and specific. Earlier this year, who envisioned the debate over Iraq hinging on the 70,000–80,000 troops McCain would like to draw down to and the 50,000-man residual force Obama says he would leave in Iraq? Sure, McCain and Obama have different reasons and different approaches. That’s why supporters of the war fear Obama would undermine security gains in Iraq by withdrawing too rapidly and opponents of the war believe McCain will never decide that conditions on the ground permit him to withdraw at his current proposed rate or faster. However, I don’t think you can deny that in terms of specifics, even if not ideology, the candidates are getting closer rather than further apart.
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