I think perhaps Barack Obama doesn't understand what the idiom means: "dying in vain".
Overall I thought Friday's debate was rather milquetoast. Both did fine, and neither had any major embarrassments. I agree with McCain's positions far more than Obama's, and I think he elucidated them well. I felt like Obama was deceptive and was trying his best to appear far more moderate than he actually is.
But anyway, "dying in vain". After they both whipped out their bracelets from mothers-of-fallen-soldiers Obama said this:
Sen. Obama responded saying, "I've got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant - from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek, given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, 'Can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I'm going through?' No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they're carrying out the missions of their commander in chief. And we honor all the service that they've provided. Our troops have performed brilliantly. The question is for the next president: 'Are we making good judgments about how to keep America safe? Precisely because sending our military into battle is such an enormous step."
If I were McCain, I would have jumped in and said something like this:
"Senator Obama, you just said that none of our solders has died in vain. If you don't think their deaths were in vain, then that means you think our men and women have sacrificed their lives for some good and noble cause. You think their deaths have accomplished something of immense value for our country. Would you please explain what you think that is? What have our soldiers accomplished that makes their deaths worthwhile?"
That question would have won McCain the presidency on the spot.