As Jay points out, whether or not the “serious” supporters of a surge/escalation will walk away from a half-measure — a surge that is either short or small — will be the true test of seriousness. McCain’s recent history (cough torture compromise cough) suggests that for all his sober talk now, he could wind up “reluctantly agreeing to support my Commander in Chief” or somesuch. But if he does wind up signing on with a surge compromise, that AEI speech (now a WP op-ed) will come back to haunt him:
The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces. We have tried small surges, and they have been ineffective because our commanders lacked the forces necessary to hold territory after it was cleared. … A short surge would have all the drawbacks associated with greater deployments without giving our troops the time to be effective. Announcing that we are surging for three or six months — or any other timeline — would signal to the insurgents and militias that they can wait us out, and it would indicate to the Iraqi public that the enforcement of their government’s authority will be fleeting.
Re-reading it, I’m less impressed by his somberness, but then again, the op-ed lacks the doom and gloom he brought to the Q & A period as well. — Ana Marie Cox