Here’s a snippet from Josh Marshall’s response:
The problem for the McCain campaign is that he keeps stumbling into clear statements of his actual policy, which is close to lethal since the vast majority of Americans disagree with his policy and Iraq is virtually the only thing he’s running on. The context the McCain campaign keeps trying to put forward after the fact is what they wished he’d said rather than what he did. And even that, when you push deep, isn’t that different from McCain’s actual policy, which is that he doesn’t think we should be leaving Iraq for years to come, most likely decades.
Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s take:
That’s the critical question in this campaign: do Americans want a neo-empire in the Middle East? Do they want US troops permanently stationed in Iraq with up to 60 permanent bases? That’s what the Bush administration wants to foist onto Iraq; and that’s what McCain believes in. The viral video now buzzing on the Internets is not a gaffe, it’s the truth. McCain would love to see US troops stationed peacefully in Iraq for the foreseeable future. To him it does not matter when they come home. What matters is that the casualty rate get low enough to persuade Americans they shouldn’t care about another expansion of American empire. In fact, the entire debate about bringing them home is puzzling and frustrating to McCain. After all, why should we bring them home when being there for ever is the point?
It wasn’t WMDs or Saddam’s threat that motivated this war, we now understand, so much as the capacity to forward station US troops in an oil-rich region and help contain Iran. Is this a good idea? That’s what the Iraqis are now furiously debating. And it’s what Americans should be furiously debating in this campaign. It’s the biggest difference between the two candidates and it couldn’t be more important.
And in respect to those who have loved ones serving in Iraq, how is it that it’s “not too important” when they are able to return home? I get the policy that McCain is trying to push here, but couldn’t he have done it in a more thoughtful way? He better tighten things up here….it’s not been a good week or so for Mr. McCain.