McCain's '100 Year' Remark Hands Ammo to War Critics

Committee spokesman Alex Conant said, "Barack Obama is deliberately misleading voters by asserting that John McCain wants to fight the Iraq was for another 100 years, when it's well-documented that John McCain never said that."

McCain's Wright, McCain's Tuzla

The attacks on McCain aren't coming just from his Democratic opponents. A scathing anti-McCain video posted on YouTube, entitled "No, We Can't," uses select lines from what McCain said to give the distinct impression that he would actually enjoy it if the war went on for 100 years. His words are edited to make him to say: "Make it (or, maybe) 100 years. That'd be fine with me."

Google the words "McCain" and "100 years" and you will be treated to a menu of blogs attacking McCain for wanting to wage war for another century.

Several political analysts said they sympathized with McCain's predicament. They say he tried to give a detailed, textured reply to a serious question and his opponents conveniently dropped the context and qualifiers and used to draw a withering caricature of cavalier warmonger.

Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said it was clear to him what McCain really meant -- after all, McCain spelled it out at length. His candor gave his opponents a huge opening to portray it otherwise.

"It's his Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright [Obama's controversial former pastor]," Shrum said. "It's his Tuzla [the Bosnian city where Clinton erroneously claimed she had landed in a helicopter under sniper fire]."

McCain: All's Fair in Politics

Former Bush political strategist Matthew Dowd said the problem for McCain is that the distorted version of what he said plays precisely to his vulnerability: his ardent support for an unpopular war.

"For the Democrats, it's a gift because it's a shortcut version to say this guy is going to support the Bush war and he's going to do it for some crazy period of time," Dowd said. "In politics, nuance and truth are unfortunately not very often rewarded. So, whether it's fair or not, that obviously never seems to be a question in politics. It's whether it's effective or not."

Several weeks ago as he rode in his campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, McCain was asked how he felt about his 100-year comment being turned against him, McCain shrugged. "Life isn't fair," he said.

But the attacks have stung. More recently, McCain has tried to rebut them, calling them "distortions." When asked, he painstakingly tries -- but rarely volunteers -- to explain what he actually said and meant.

"As we know, all's fair in politics," he said in Aurora, Ill. "But the fact is as everybody knows, and the media who follows me and spends a lot of time with me, I was talking about after the war is over."

In Columbus, Ohio, he said, "The point is the surge is succeeding. We can bring our troops home with honor and we can bring them all home or we can have an arrangement, a security arrangement [with Iraq] much along the lines that we have with other countries."

McCain fired back at one his potential general election opponent, Illinois Sen. Bararck Obama, for saying McCain had not offered a clear definition of what could be viewed as success in the war torn country. McCain hit Obama with some of the sharpest language he's used against Obama to date.

"Well then in all due respect he does not understand the elements, the fundamental elements of national security and warfare," said McCain.

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