Thursday, October 18, 2007

# Posted 8:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ZOMBIE McCAIN IS BACK FROM THE DEAD! There's been some buzz for a few weeks now, at least among the 2008 junkies, that McCain is mounting a come back. Of course, this is quite gratifying for us die-hard McCain-iacs. The question is, why is it happening and what are the chances that it will be anything more than a short-lived improvement?

In a rather flattering article in the National Review, Kate O'Beirne lists some of the reasons. McCain may still be the best bet for a GOP win in 2008. Social conservatives aren't taking to Giuliani. Or Romney. Thompson is stuck in neutral. And Republicans anger about the Bush/McCain stance on immigration is fading.

I generally buy those arguments. But O'Beirne misses the most important development of all: Iraq. That word appears once in her article, in a reference to McCain's son, who is serving a tour of duty there as a Marine. (Well, you certainly can't say that McCain has supported this war because his children are safe Harvard.)

More importantly, the surge is working and McCain is the candidate who has backed it relentlessly. The anti-Al Qaeda alliance remains strong in Anbar in spite of AQ's assassination of its leader, Sheik Sattar. With only 19 KIAs in October, the US military continues to demonstrate that it can keep its casualties down while taking the fight aggressively to the enemy. The Iraqi Security Forces are also losing many fewer men. The montly death toll for Iraqi civilians remains horrific, but has moved significantly downward since the end of August.

Of course, a reversal on any or all of these fronts remains a significant possibility. But there is reason to believe that we've seen until now is the product of an effective strategy, not a random fluctuation. If you cross your fingers and believe that all of these indicators hold constant or improve between now and January, McCain may find himself in a much stronger position.

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