"Straight talk" of the day

At a town hall on Tuesday, John McCain promised that he wouldn't bluster, and then he went ahead and did just that.

Published July 15, 2008 6:45PM (EDT)

John McCain, speaking at a town hall in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday:

I won't bluster, and I won't make idle threats, but understand this -- when I am commander in chief, there will be nowhere the terrorists can run and nowhere they can hide.

Funny, but that sounds, actually, exactly like bluster.

Somehow terrorists have found havens in countries where American troops are actually stationed, like Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe McCain can make an argument -- a very dubious one -- that he could actually succeed in completely rooting terrorists out of those countries. But what about the rest of the world? What about, say, Saudi Arabia? And Pakistan? And Lebanon? What about the north African countries so overlooked in these sorts of discussions -- Osama bin Laden took refuge in Sudan in the 1990s, for example, and Islamic militants are experiencing a resurgence, with the help of al-Qaida, in Algeria. That's a very short list of potential places for terrorists to hide, and it doesn't even count the relative ease with which they can infiltrate into the U.S. and its Western allies. Even for a politician, McCain broke that no-bluster promise remarkably quickly.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.