It was an issue that divided Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and then-Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail during the 2008 general election: the Iraq war.
So, with President Obama hailing the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq at Fort Bragg today, his former opponent took to the Senate floor to unleash one last scathing criticism of how Obama handled the Iraq war, as a senator, a candidate and as president.
“It is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of United States troops from Iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests,” McCain said, “I believe that history will judge this president’s leadership with scorn and disdain, with the scorn and disdain that it deserves.”
McCain implied that Obama should not take any of the credit that might come with the withdrawal, going as far as to say that some soldiers at Fort Bragg today felt the “irony” of the president’s speech.
“The surge worked,” McCain said. “For three years, the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”
To highlight this point, McCain dug up old quotes of then-senator and candidate Obama in which he called for a withdrawal from Iraq and said that that campaign promise has led Obama as president to lead from behind, without authority.
“The president never brought the full weight of his office to bear in shaping the politics and the events on the ground in Iraq so as to secure a residual presence of U.S. troops,” he said. “This left our commanders and our negotiators in Baghdad mostly trying to respond to events in Iraq, trying to shape events without the full influence of the American president behind them.”