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McCain: It’s the Process That Matters, Not the Result

OMAHA, Neb. — During a campaign stop here Wednesday at Werner Enterprises, a large trucking company, Sen. John McCain took some questions from local press and the national press pool. Naturally, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was a hot topic. Hagel, who is not seeking reelection, is scheduled to accompany Sen. Barack Obama on a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq later this summer. McCain has sharply criticized Obama for formulating his Iraq and Afghanistan policies without visiting Iraq since 2006 and without ever visiting Afghanistan.

When asked what he thought about Hagel’s decision to travel with Obama to the war zones, McCain said:

“Chuck Hagel and I are the dearest and closest of friends. I respect his views. We’ve had some disagreements on the Iraq war, but I’m certainly pleased that Sen. Obama is being accompanied by Chuck Hagel who has military experience, who has knowledge of these issues, even if we have some disagreement."

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, McCain said he would even consider Hagel for a position in his administration. Hagel has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Obama. McCain was later asked if his view that Obama is naive and irresponsible regarding the war in Iraq extends to Hagel, who also opposes the war in Iraq:

“Sen. Hagel is wrong. Sen Hagel has visited Iraq. Sen Hagel has made an informed decision. Sen Hagel, though I disagree with some of his conclusions, the fact is that Sen Obama has never examined the issue carefully, at least from the standpoint of sitting down and discussing the situation with the commanding officer on the ground."

This is a curious statement. According to McCain, even though Obama and Hagel reached the same conclusion in their opposition to the war, Hagel did it in a more legitimate way because he visited the country more recently. Because Obama has never had a sit-down with Gen. David Petraeus and has not been to Iraq in two years, his opposition to the war is illegitimate. Could we extrapolate that any American who opposes the war without personally having met with Petraeus or visiting Iraq has "never examined the issue carefully?" That hardly seems a fair standard, and it’s an easy one for McCain to score political points by casually dismissing the views of those he disagrees with as uninformed.

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