What happened
John McCain said Wednesday that withdrawing from Iraq too soon would be a betrayal of the Iraqi people that would leave the country in a genocidal civil war. (ABC News) Democrats are planning to attack the presumptive Republican nominee over a comment he made in January about keeping a military presence in Iraq “for 100 years” if that’s what it takes to keep peace in the region. (Politico)

What the commmentators said
Democrats are giddy about all the “cheap shots” they can take at McCain over this off-hand comment, said National Review Online in an editorial. But what he actually said was “inarguably true,” and hardly controversial. “If we prevail in Iraq and the violence ends, American troops can be stationed there just as they are in other peaceful, strategically important countries such as South Korea and Japan.”

It would be nice if we could chalk up the Democrats’ “insistence on misunderstanding McCain” to their reliable “military and historical incompetence,” said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But Barack Obama’s own top military adviser, Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, made the same argument in 2003—albeit in opposition to the war—and that “removes stupidity as the excuse, leaving only dishonesty as the explanation.”

So now that we’re knee-deep in an “ill-advised, ill-considered, and hastily conceived” fight, said the Trenton, N.J., Times in an editorial, the only smart thing to do is to press on with President Bush’s failed policies, no matter where they take us? If we follow McCain’s path—with 4,000 American soldiers already dead, almost 30,000 wounded, and a war tab of more than $500 billion and counting—“what will we have won? And how will we know when we have won it?”

There’s no denying that McCain has handed Democrats the “gift” of videotaped evidence to cite when they claim he represents “more of the same,” said Steve Benen in The Carpetbagger Report. True, “a fair look at this shows that McCain didn’t seriously propose extending the status quo until 2108,” but it’s hard to make the argument that signing off on “a long-term, Korea-like presence in Iraq” is not the same as keeping “Bush’s Iraq policy going indefinitely.”