As we saw in last weekend's Saddleback Forum, being able to compare and contrast what the candidates are saying is not only infinitely useful, it's pretty compelling. The occasion to whip out the measuring stick hit us again this week with McCain and Obama both addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
Appropriate to the audience, Obama and McCain hit on Iraq and their plans as commander in chief.
Pundits have gone nuts parsing and analyzing the fact that Obama mentioned Biden (Veeeepstaaakes) in his address while hammering that McCain is focusing on the wrong fight — and that McCain leveled firm charges against Obama's national security credentials, pointing out his shifting positions on the surge and calling him out for voting against funding for the troops.
Despite all this, I can't help but be a rhetorical purist. What did they say, and how does it compare? Here's how they talked about success in Iraq.
Are you a purist? To see what they said and links to the full text of the speeches,
McCain said yesterday:
Success in Iraq is the establishment of a generally peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists. It is the advance of religious tolerance over violent radicalism. It is a level of security that allows the Iraqi authorities to govern, the average person to live a normal life, and international entities to operate. It is a situation in which the rule of law, after decades of tyranny, takes hold. It is an Iraq where Iraqi forces have the responsibility for enforcing security in their country, and where American troops can return home, with the honor of having secured their country's interests at great personal cost, and helping another people achieve peace and self-determination. . . The stability of the entire Middle East, that volatile and critically important region, is at stake. The United States credibility as a moral and political leader is at stake.
Obama said today:
Now it's time to succeed in Iraq by turning Iraq over to its sovereign government. We should not keep sending our troops to fight tour after tour of duty while our military is overstretched. We should not keep spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while Americans struggle in a sluggish economy. Ending the war will allow us to invest in America, to strengthen our military, and to finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the border region of Pakistan. This is the central front in the war on terrorism. This is where the Taliban is gaining strength and launching new attacks. . . .
Did you catch the speeches? Is the US role in Iraq vital to its global reputation? Is it time for the US to focus energy elsewhere? What is the solution to success in Iraq?