John McCain continues to repeat that “he will never surrender” in Iraq. This is a bit of Rovian framing that he hopes will do two things: one, keep the debate focused on his perceived area of strength, foreign policy, and two, position leaving Iraq on anything other than his timetable as “surrender.”
It’s not a bad piece of politicking. And he’ll likely repeat it throughout the remainder of the campaign. That said, it won’t work. Despite the recent gains in Iraq (now if Petraeus was running, that would be a real candidate), Americans understand that it is a giant clusterfuck with, ultimately, no good options for a successful resolution. We can support al-Maliki and the SIIC until they’re tucked in bed with the Iranians (our enemy, lest you forget) and pay the Sunnis not to fight with borrowed billions forever, but we’ll still be screwed.
To deny this, is to deny reality. But that’s all McCain has left: denial. Which is why he’ll never surrender. He’ll be fighting this battle (as I suspect he’s still fighting Vietnam) on his death bed.
What McCain really needs is just a pat on the head and a soft voice. “You do that, pops. You do that.”