McCain Takes Fire for 'Wasted' Troops Comment

A remark Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman" Wednesday night is generating some controversy.

"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be," McCain said about the Iraq War. "We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."

The concept that American lives are being "wasted" is specifically what drew political fire.

Democrats Demand Apology

"We think Sen. McCain should apologize immediately," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, "and he certainly should explain how it is that he now believes American lives are being wasted when he so stubbornly supports the president's plan to escalate the war in Iraq -- which would put even more lives in harm's way."

McCain's Senate office released a statement from the senator that did not contain an apology, but suggested that he "should have used the word, sacrificed, as I have in the past."

The larger point, McCain said, is that America's leaders owe the troops "our best judgment and honest appraisal of the progress of the war, in which they continue to sacrifice" and that "we have made many mistakes in the past, and we have paid a grievous price for those mistakes in the lives of the men and women who have died to protect our interests in Iraq and defend the rest of us from the even greater threat we would face if we are defeated there."

Obama Apologized Over Similar Controversy

Earlier this month, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., fell into a similar controversy after telling an Ames, Iowa, crowd that Americans "have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."

Finney said these two situations were apples and oranges.

"Sen. Obama apologized. He immediately saw his error," she said. "And he also does not support the war."

But at the Senate today Obama defended McCain, surmising that McCain was trying to say what he had been trying to: that the troops deserved better planning and preparation than the Bush administration had given them.

"One thing I don't think McCain can be faulted for is his dedication to the troops," Obama said. "He's been there, done that."