The debate over Sen. John McCain's comments about US troops being in Iraq for up to "100 years" continues to heat up, with the Democratic National Committee launching a new TV ad using McCain's words against him, and the Republican National Committee demanding that TV and cable networks stop running the ad.
As we've covered before, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has twisted McCain's words, in the past to make it seem as though McCain had been advocating continued war for 100 years, as opposed to a US troop presence as exists in South Korea.
What McCain said, when asked about President Bush's comments that having US troops in Iraq for another 50 years would be acceptable was, "Maybe 100. That's be fine with me. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, that'd be fine with me, and I hope it would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaida is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day."
That said, the Republicans have tried to use this small number of misrepresentations to make any political use of McCain's "100 Years" remarks somehow inaccurate and dishonest. It's an interesting attempt to remove a gaffe from the public sphere, but it's a reach.
The DNC ad (watch it HERE) doesn't give McCain's whole remarks -- namely his disclaimer that the presence of the troops would only be OK if they were not engaged in continued combat -- but neither does it say McCain is called for 100 years' more worth of war.
It runs a clip of him saying "Maybe 100. That'd be fine with me."
"If all he offers is more of the same," the narrator says, "is John McCain the right choice for America's future?"
With footage of the war and graphics explaining the cost in dollars and lives, it implies McCain is calling for 100 years of continued carnage, but it doesn't outright state it.
The RNC quotes Factcheck.org calling a previous DNC fundraising email that characterized McCain as advocating an "endless war" in Iraq as a "rank falsehood" -- but that is not what this TV ad says, nor was Factcheck.org fact-checking this TV ad.
On Meet the Press Sunday, DNC chair Howard Dean defended the ad, saying, "we're not arguing that he's going to be at war for a hundred years. We don't think we ought to be in Iraq for a hundred years under any circumstances. Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are being spent in Iraq, which we need right here at home right now to preserve American jobs....Secondly, if Senator McCain believes that you can occupy a country like Iraq for a hundred years without having a long war and violence and our troops being hurt and, and killed, I think Senator McCain is wrong."
Dean asked who thinks "that if you keep our troops in Iraq for a hundred years, people won't be attacking them and won't be setting off suicide bombs and won't be having militias go after them? I don't think so. And most Americans don't think so. What Senator McCain is saying doesn't make any sense. We cannot be in Iraq for a hundred years. Those dollars belong in America."
Incidentally, there's an image from the ad that intrigued me. Namely this one, of an IED blowing up near US soldiers.
It was very reminiscent of an image used in Michael Moore's controversial, Oscar-winning documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, a partner at the firm McMahon Squier Lapp & Assoc, which made the ad, tells me that he bought the footage from Getty Images, which is where Moore must have bought it as well. He didn't remember the same footage being used in the Moore movie, he said.
And it's true, right on the Getty Images website, you can see the footage from January 16, 2004 is for sale.