But the problem was not only his statement, it was his explanation:
He said he was talking about the first Gulf War and not the current conflict. "If the word `again' was misconstrued, I want us to remove our dependency on foreign oil for national security reasons, and that's all I mean," McCain said.Blaming it on the first Gulf War sounds like something a bunch of campaign strategists would attempt to deflect criticism but it's not the kind of straight talk McCain prides himself on. As a result, the Maverick lost a rare opportunity to focus the current conflict a little better.
"The Congressional Record is very clear: I said we went to war in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction."
It was the second time in as many days that McCain had to clarify his comments.
He was correct--oil is a component of the current war, or rather, the free flow of oil. Both Bush and Cheney have already admitted as much. Alan Greenspan made some headlines for his new book by saying the same thing, only to clarify accordingly later. McCain even alluded to it during subsequent explanations.
But the left has been--and continues to be--wrong about this 'war for oil' canard, stretching all the way back to their protests during the first Gulf War (although McCain has now brilliantly made them look correct) due to their overly narrow focus on the pump price. Proof of their error comes through none other than their hero Dick Darth Cheney, responsible for everything evil on the planet including constipation and hang nails. The Crooks and Liars crowd had a field day when this interview from 1994 surfaced, which showed Cheney saying Iraq wasn't worth another US soldier.
What they didn't understand was his comment actually served to bolster the argument the Iraq war was not about oil alone but rather the effects of 9/11 on the oil markets, just as the administration eventually admitted. Again, it's the free flow of oil that's important--a life and death resource the world can't afford to have held hostage by tinhorns with aspiring WMD programs (or those who've already used them) or access to proxy terrorists with such weapons. That's probably what he was trying to say, but he said it poorly.
But alas, his backpeddling combined with a less than friendly press made it look worse and made the radicals look correct. Couple that with the gaffe about the Minneapolis bridge collapse and the candidate has had a less than stellar week. Just part of a long, frustrating campaign, my friends.