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Column: McCain's Faulty Iraq Math

This story was written by Thomas Wachtel, Indiana Daily Student

Our two presidential candidates have all both been tagged, by some combination of their own campaigns and the media, with some defining characteristic. Barack Obama is the change candidate. Hillary Clinton, while she was still around, was the experience candidate.John McCain, of course, with his military service and time spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was prepackaged as the military and foreign policy candidate which was supposed to be a boon to him, since the United States is, after all, currently at war.Unfortunately for McCain, it would appear that he doesnt actually know anything about Iraq, the troops who have been stationed there or how the war is being run.The Thursday before last, McCain spoke at a town hall in Wisconsin about Iraq and managed not to say anything that was actually true. He declared that troop levels in Iraq had been drawn down to pre-surge levels. Unfortunately for the candidate, thats not the case there were 130,000 American troops in Iraq before the surge, and even after the reductions planned for this August there will be 140,000 American soldiers in Iraq.He also declared Basra, Mosul and Sadr city to be quiet. That is also not the case, as proven by the three suicide bombings that took place that very same day, two in Basra proper and one in a nearby town. There are many definitions of quiet, but none of them involve bombs.This is not OK, because as mentioned earlier, Sen. McCain is running for president largely on his military and foreign-policy expertise. Hes admitted that he doesnt have quite the handle on the economy that he maybe should, but it seems he doesnt really have a handle on his supposed area of expertise. It doesnt really seem like its too much to ask that he actually know how many people are in harms way.The worst part is that he hasnt backed off. He then said the next day that he said we had drawn down, and that the rest will be home at the end of July, Thats just facts, the facts as I stated them.Except that thats not what he said initially and theres even video of McCain saying what he now says he didnt say. And, even when given the chance to amend what he had said, he again claimed that the troop levels would be at their previous point at the end of July. This, by all estimates, doesnt look like it will be the case.All of this just goes toward the idea that a McCain administration would be similar to the one we are about to finally escape. The past seven years have been filled with factual inaccuracies that have been pawned off on the American people as the truth, and enough should be enough. John McCain, with his history of independence, experience and bipartisanship (not to mention his military service) should be better than this. He ought to be able to tell the difference between 130,000 Americans and 140,000 and the reason why that difference is important.

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