Smart v. Stupid
McCain reminds us why we voted for Obama
A McCain foreign policy would be an American tragedy
Arizona's Sen. John McCain is at it again. This week he upbraided Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for failing to deploy U.S. troops to fight in the ongoing civil war in Syria. McCain could hardly contain himself as Panetta finished his opening remarks, squirming like a first-grader needing a potty break.
“Let me tell you what’s wrong with your statement,” McCain sneered, “you don’t mention American leadership. Americans should lead in this, America should be standing up.” He didn’t really explain why, except to say that that is what we always do. Iraq for example, I thought.
But this is not a new rant for McCain. He might fancy himself as a defender of freedom, but it seems that his only path to it is through a pile of bodies – ours or someone else’s. McCain has advocated more troop deployments in more hot wars than anyone else since he lost the presidential election. Prior to this, the senator insisted that U.S. military intervention in Libya was required. It wasn’t.
And let’s remember that McCain was one of the prominent purveyors of the now discredited weapons of mass destruction argument for attacking Iraq. He also consistently opposed any drawdowns in either Iraq or Afghanistan, predicting doom and gloom if they happened. When should we come home? Never, I suppose….
Now he’s beating the drum for bombing both Syria and Iran.
McCain enjoys a (deserved) wellspring of deference for his odd views and behavior owing to the terrible experiences he suffered as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. But as anyone on the Hill can tell you privately, one never knows quite which side of the bed the famously prickly senator woke up on. He is even known to entirely gin up a new mood during the lunch recess. The joke is that McCain gets on the senators-only elevator with a grin and gets off with a grimace.
Despite all the deference, nobody really likes John McCain. He has a near 50% disapproval rate in his home state, perhaps owing to all the people he has personally ticked off over the years. In 2008, when push came to shove, he managed to beat Barack Obama by nearly nine points in Arizona. But what with his general unpopularity and his close ties to the scandal-plagued Pinal County Sheriff Paul “build the dang fence” Babeu, it is unlikely that he could be reelected today.
In his recent rants on Syria, McCain is following a familiar script: The United States has failed to lead unless we lead with the bodies of our young service members. Anything less than sending our men and women to commence the killing is a failure of U.S. resolve.
So let’s add up what a President McCain’s commitment to American “leadership” might have looked like:
In a McCain presidency we might have had upward of two million tired and over-rotated U.S. troops now engaged in shooting wars in the Middle East. And behind them, they would need a resupply mission involving perhaps a like number of bodies.
There is only one way to support that level of “leadership.” Does anyone doubt that reinstatement of the military draft would also be part of a President McCain administration?
Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”