Yesterday Bill Bennett blasted John McCain’s attack on Romney for advocating benchmarks as “below the belt,” because many staunch proponents of victory in Iraq supported benchmarks..
Now it turns out that Senator McCain himself proposed the very benchmarks he labelled as defeatism yesterday: “McCain considers setting benchmarks for Iraqis.” The article opens:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the most stalwart supporters of the war in Iraq, said Thursday that he might propose that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks for the United States to continue its engagement.
Fellow senators and independent political scientists said McCain’s thinking reflected growing concerns within the Republican Party about the course of the war, and also might mark a turning point for the likely 2008 presidential contender, whose previous unconditional backing of the war may have hurt his prospects.
McCain said Thursday that he hadn’t yet decided on precise benchmarks. “They’d have to be specific, and they (Iraqi government officials) would have to meet them,” he said.Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: “I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven’t met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we’re not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options.”
Going negative is always risky. Going negative with a false charge is really risky. Going negative with a false charge that can also be immediately and easily applied to yourself is beyond reckless.
UPDATE: The New York Times says of McCain’s charge:”The charge appears to be misleading.” Will the paper be withdrawing its endorsement of McCain?