By: E&P Staff
Sen. John McCain delivered his promised major speech on Iraq today before a friendly audience at Virginia Military Institute. Fresh from a much-ridiculed trip to a Baghdad market — he admitted on ’60 Minutes’ that he misspoke about safe conditions in much of the city — and a plunge in the polls, McCain did not back off from support for the war and his ongoing assault on the news media.
“I just returned from my fifth visit to Iraq,” he said in opening. “Unlike the veterans here today, I risked nothing more threatening — nothing more threatening than a hostile press corps, and my only mission was to inform my opinions with facts.”
McCain repeated what he wrote in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed — except for the part in which he had hailed the progress made in reducing the influence of Moqtada al-Sadr.
He wrote on Sunday that “militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr is in hiding, his followers are not contesting American forces, sectarian violence has dropped in Baghdad and we are working with the Shiite mayor of Sadr City.” The following day, the radical cleric called for, and got, a massive protest rally featuring death-to-America chants.
“We who are willing to support this new strategy, and give General Petraeus the time and support he needs, have chosen a hard road,” McCain said. “But it is the right road. It is necessary and just.”