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Letter from the Editor

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The presidential race is starting to turn nasty — at least on one side. John McCain said last week that opponent Barack Obama was willing to "lose a war in order to win a campaign." McCain also ran an ad falsely claiming that Obama canceled a meeting with wounded vets in Germany because "cameras weren't allowed." (This, even though McCain similarly had canceled an appearance with wounded vets this spring, also at the request of the Pentagon.)

McCain, who pledged not long ago that he wanted to run a "civil" campaign, apparently has abandoned that approach in favor of a Rovian scorched-earth attack on his opponent's patriotism and integrity. So it was with some interest that I watched McCain's appearance on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN last Friday, where McCain claimed unequivocally that he would capture Osama bin Laden.

Blitzer asked how McCain was going manage such a feat when President Bush hadn't been able to do it in seven years.

McCain told Blitzer: "I'm not going to telegraph a lot of the things that I'm going to do because then it might compromise our ability to do so. But, look, I know the area. I have been there. I know wars. I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden."

Of course, a few days earlier, McCain had proclaimed himself worried about the situation on the nonexistent "Iraq/Pakistan border," which would suggest he doesn't know the area quite as well as he'd like us to think. What got to me, though, was his assertion that he knew how to capture bin Laden but hadn't bothered to share this magical information with the president, the CIA, or the Pentagon. He's a U.S. senator, for heaven's sake. Surely the president will take his calls.

Seems to me that McCain was dangling his secret plan to capture the world's leading terrorist as an incentive for the American people to elect him president. "Elect me," he appeared to be saying, "and I'll get the bad guy."

Huh. Sounds like he'd rather win a campaign than capture Osama bin Laden. Either that, or the "maverick" is full of, uh, non-straight talk.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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