War of words heats up over Iraq

Senators John McCain & Barack Obama (AFP)In a fiery preview of a possible 2008 election match-up, US Senators Barack Obama and John McCain traded political potshots over Iraq Friday, and Hillary Clinton also faced a Republican barrage.

A day after the US Congress sent President George W. Bush a new 100 billion dollar war budget, stripped of Democratic troop withdrawal dates, raw emotions over the war spiced up the already simmering 2008 White House race.

Republican candidate McCain complained that Senate votes by Democrats Clinton and Obama against the mammoth funding measure Thursday night were tantamount to "waving a white flag to Al-Qaeda."

Obama shot back in a written statement, ridiculing former Vietnam prisoner-of-war McCain for his recent stroll around a Baghdad neighborhood, and also lashed out at another Republican 2008 hopeful, Mitt Romney.

"Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe the course we are on in Iraq is working, but I do not," Obama said.

"If there ever was a reflection of that, it's the fact that Senator McCain required a flack jacket, ten armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, and 100 soldiers with rifles by his side to stroll through a market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago."

Just 47 minutes later, straight-talking McCain was back with another statement dripping with sarcasm.

While Obama's "two years in the US Senate certainly entitle him to vote against funding our troops," McCain said, his own military service and conversations with military leaders convinced him failure in Iraq would be catastrophic.

McCain's parting shot poked fun at a military faux-pas in the Illinois senator's statement.

"By the way, Senator Obama, it's a 'flak' jacket, not a 'flack' jacket."

The tongue-in-cheek exchange reflected the politically explosive impact of Thursday's vote and previewed the point-scoring likely to intensify as candidates fire off stinging soundbites to delight their core supporters.

Clinton and Obama were among only 14 senators who opposed the budget, in a nod to fiercely anti-war Democratic activists who will decide their fates.

McCain voted for it.

Romney, who has carved out a hawkish profile, said the Democratic pair had rendered themselves undependable in the eyes of the US military.

"Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cast a vote that singularly defines their lack of leadership and serves as a glaring example of an unrealistic and inexperienced worldview on national security," Romney said.

One Democratic senator, Joseph Biden, a foreign policy veteran running a long-shot 2008 campaign, appeared torn between his conscience and political ambitions, and admitted his "yes" vote Thursday would take some explaining.

Another aspiring Democratic candidate, Senator Christopher Dodd, said Congress made a "grave mistake."

The vote on war funding came as a new poll showed a record number of people in the United States are pessimistic about the outcome in Iraq and now believe the war was a mistake.

Seventy-six percent of Americans think the war is going badly, up 10 percentage points in one month, according to the CBS News/New York Times opinion poll. And 61 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.

Obama said late Friday his vote was a signal to Bush that "enough is enough."

"We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly."

Clinton said the emergency war budget "fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq."

The Democratic front-runner is frequently asked by anti-war activists to explain her 2002 vote to authorize Bush to wage war in Iraq.

She says she takes responsibility for her vote, but blames Bush for giving "empty assurances" on finding a diplomatic solution.

Obama has indirectly skewered Clinton over her vote, repeatedly reminding audiences he was against the war all along.

The Illinois freshman had however one big advantage — he was not in the Senate when the vote was cast in a febrile political atmosphere just over a year after the September 11, 2001 attacks.


  1. Bill Jonke

    Might instead be relegated to Dick Cheney.

    We must put our priorities in order. Cheney has proven that at the moment, he’s capable to more harm to us than McCain.

    Besides, McCain doesn’t really stand a chance in Hell to become anything more than a topic of whimsical conversation after he gets through with his senile and maniacal rantings.

    Oh, Dickie, if you only had a heart – attack!

    Bill Jonke

  2. gene

    McCain…you got to be kidding me. This f**king moron/idiot needs to take his stupid pathetic ass to the north pole so his mouth will freeze shut. Is (anyone) with a few active brain cells still listening to this Bush lover?

    McCain do this country a favor and have a heart attack!!!!

  3. SEAL

    You know our nation is in real trouble when the American people install a Senator in their Congress a man that was subjected to who knows what type of brainwashing techniques for several years while in the custody of their nation’s dedicated enemy. This is the man they trust to make decisions that affect every citizen of their country.

    Now, a large number of those same American voters trust him so much that they want to place him in the most powerful position possible for anyone, the president of the United States who is supreme commander and chief of its armed forces.

    Don’t rant about McCain. Rant about those traitorist idiots that support him. They are the real danger; the real terrorists; the real enemy dedicated to destroying This nation.

  4. Joe Sedlak

    Who in the world cares what Flip-Flop McCain says or thinks – I don’t think he even knows himself! Waving the white flag? He waved his at reason many years ago. To think that he is a candidate for the office of president makes me shudder. He makes the incumbent president look good!

    Another notorious flip-flopper, Romney-the- great white hunter, has a habit of saying things that he doesn’t really want to, but they might bring in votes. Whatever works!

    What a sad lot the republicans have going for themselves – ensuring that they are out of the white house for a very long time indeed!

  5. Carl Nemo

    John! Election cycles are bad enough, but when the American people have to suffer the continual moronic screed coming from this puffy-faced “woochuck”; i.e., McCain, then all I can say is damn, damn, and more damn…! Even the TV monitor screams “ouch” when he shows up on the screen phosphors…:))

    All I can do is post the “duty link” so folks can read about the “no good, the bad, and the ugly” about McCain; i.e., “warts and all”…! This is probably one of the best “one-stop-shopping” links concerning this guy. He’s a phony to the core and you’ll easily see why he made it to the U.S. Senate. His credentials are impeccable when it comes to being a typical U.S. Senator concerning his profile, m.o., and “connections”.


    Nemo **==

  6. vietnam vet

    vietnam vet

    I respect McCain for his service to this country, but I’m afraid his time has come and gone to be commander-in-Chief. Bush stole that from him in 2000

  7. Carl Nemo

    I admire you for having respect and kinship with fellow Nam vets, but before you get all “teary-eyed” over McCain and his POW record I suggest you do a bit of research on this Manchurian candidate. This link has some fascinating pix of him “schmoozing” with his former captors…?! I “know” I sure as hell wouldn’t be giving them a big “Barny” hug and defending them, while humiliating familes that are still searching for their MIA’s…!


    Nemo **==

  8. Joe Sedlak

    McCain loves to go strolling in Baghdad – all he needs is 100 troops, a few humvees, a few helicopters, a few snipers on roof tops, and a flak jacket – and that’s just to spend a couple of minutes in a “liberated” market. He is really “in touch.”

    What would this “I am a genuine war hero” know about waving white flags? How dare he accuse the democrats of surrendering for doing the task imposed on them by the American voters? Has the man forgotten what it’s like to be in a phoney war? Regardless, troops die every day and all he promises is more of the same!

    Lordy, if he is the best that this crop of republican candidates has to offer they will be out of the white house for many decades.