Detour on the Straight Talk Express

This weekend John McCain seemed to violate his high road campaign approach when he said that Mitt Romney had an Iraqi withdrawal timetable. Here is an excerpt from this Time article titled:

McCain's Conversation Changer: A Misleading Low Blow

McCain says that he thinks this amounts to Romney supporting a drop-dead deadline for withdrawing troops. But that's not what happened. A more fair reading of the exchange shows that Romney was instead talking about private benchmarks that would allow Bush and Maliki to measure success or failure. In fact, Romney says flat out that he would veto any bill from Congress that contained such a timetable for withdrawal.

But even if Romney had explicitly supported withdrawal, what exactly does McCain mean by demanding that Romney apologize to American troops? Is McCain suggesting that any American who opposed the surge was somehow not supporting American troops? Is he saying that it is unpatriotic to debate American policy in Iraq? It sure sounds like it. And it is an unbecoming posture for McCain, who has been boasting in recent days about the "respectful debate" he would have with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama should he win the nomination.

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