Youngster Obama was supposed to be the one vulnerable to foreign affairs gaffs. But it’s McCain who is tongue-tied, exposing him to scrutiny about his age yet again.

McCain falters on foreign policy – The younger, less politically experienced Obama was the candidate who needed to prove his foreign policy credentials. But lately it’s been John McCain flubbing his lines. Coming off Obama’s world tour – widely seen as a way to shore up voters confidence in his foreign affairs capability – Slate writes that John McCain has been making the mistakes which might have been expected of Obama:

“That was the big nail-biter: Would Obama, the first-term senator and foreign-policy newbie, utter an irrevocably damaging gaffe? The nightmare scenarios were endless. Maybe he would refer to “the Iraq-Pakistan border,” or call the Czech Republic “Czechoslovakia” (three times), or confuse Sunni with Shiite, or say that the U.S. troop surge preceded (and therefore caused) the Sunni Awakening in Anbar province.

But, of course, it was Obama’s opponent, John McCain—the war hero and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee—who uttered these eyebrow-raisers.”

Interestingly, Slate argues that if Obama had uttered such statements, he would have been crucified in the press. But it claims McCain’s gotten off scot-free: “McCain caught almost no hell for his statements—they were barely noted in the mainstream press—most likely because they didn’t fit the campaign’s “narrative.” McCain is “experienced” in national-security matters; therefore, if he says something that’s dumb or factually wrong, it’s a gaffe or he’s tired. Obama is “inexperienced,” so if he were to go off the rails, it would be a sign of his clear unsuitability for the job of commander in chief.” — Slate

McCain’s Iraq strategy – The wonderfully named Rightwing Nuthouse blog says McCain’s gaffes and his age mean he won’t be able to win the war of words about Iraq, especially since the left is ignoring how much Obama’s Iraq strategy has moved towards the centre and towards McCain’s own position:

“Perhaps because his supporters are too busy gloating they can’t see how their candidate has delivered a body blow to their entire critique of the Iraq War and in the process moved much closer to John McCain’s position than any of them thought might have been possible even a couple of months ago.

Both McCain and Obama say they want “victory” in Iraq and that it is not only achievable but necessary. Both say that Iraq is a front in the War on Terror (McCain agrees with al-Qaeda that Iraq is the “central front” in the War on Terror while Obama says it is an “important” front). Both say the surge has worked although for different reasons (Obama’s reasoning is more solid on this point).” — Rightwing Nuthouse

Obama’s Iraq strategy – The editorial in the Washington Post overnight pulls apart the media coverage of Obama’s recent statements on Iraq, pointing out that while it was widely reported that Obama had found endorsement of his 16 month timetable for pulling out of Iraq, that the US commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, doesn’t believe in having a timetable, and the Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (reported to have endorsed Obama’s plan) has made it clear that Iraq should dictate the timetable. — Washington Post

McCain, the spiking of that editorial, and his Iraq strategy – We already reported on the kerfuffle when the New York Times refused to print a column penned by John McCain in response to one it published by Barack Obama. The debate carried on yesterday about whether the US media has a Barack bias, and today Investor’s Business Daily has a crack saying that “The Times spiked McCain’s op-ed, which will now receive wider circulation, because it reminds voters of Obama’s dangerous and naive foreign policy that only starts with being wrong on Iraq and the surge.”– Investor’s Business Daily 

Gaffes reignite the age issue for McCainPolitico says that McCain’s mistakes raise a serious, if uncomfortable question: Are the gaffes the result of his age? And what could that mean in the Oval Office?  Voters, thinking about their own relatives, can be expected to scrutinize McCain’s debate performances for signs of slippage. — Politico

What McCain needs to win – Mark Halperin writes for Time that while McCain can hope for a few mistakes from his opponent (Israel would be a nice place for a blunder) there are a few things he can and must change to improve his chances, including putting a hold on the Obama-obsession that’s been the theme of his campaign recently (see the screenshot from McCain’s website we ran yesterday which says in big pouty letters “The media is in love” with Obama).

Other advice? “Don’t bow to the temptation to talk about national security when he is supposed to talk about domestic issues” and:

“Recognize, accept and cater to the reality (as Rudy Giuliani would say) that most Americans care more about the price at the pump, their mortgages, and their food and health care costs then about McCain’s life story, prescience on the surge, or total number of trips made to Iraq.” — Time

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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