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McCain: Not Ready To Be President

Thursday, August 14, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

I've said many times, and I'll say again, that John McCain is a man I'd want my son to grow up to be. He's a man with a capital "M." I respect. I like him. I'm free because of guys like him.

But he should not be President of the United States.

There is something wobbly about McCain. I don't mean wobbly as a euphemism for weak; I'm thinking toddler on a bicycle wobbly. He swerves one way and the next, never quite seeming to have a firm grip on the handlebars.

McCain seems aimless. Unable to pick a direction. His policy flip-flops don't seem -- like Obama's -- to be the cold-blooded calculus of a man with a goal and a capacity for ruthlessness. Obama's flipping and flopping actually reassures me. Obambi? Hardly.

McCain's gaffes and aimlessness have the same quality as mine do: they seem to be the product of a distracted mind. Like he's not fully in the game. Like me at a cocktail party, not really paying attention, not really caring much. I'm sorry, what was your name again?

There is such a reservoir of respect for McCain, such an assumption of competence, that it's taking a while for the Senator's incompetence as a candidate to register. But I think this Georgia round will lay the groundwork for more serious questions about McCain.

The belligerence of his reaction to Russia's invasion of Georgia was quite simply, ridiculous.

There was never the slightest chance that we would do anything to stop Putin, or that we could if we wanted to. We do not have a vital interest in Georgia. Georgia is to Russia what Tibet is to China: if they want it badly enough, they'll have it, and there's not a damned thing we can do. Every single option I've heard McCain and others suggest is either impotent posturing, or damaging to our own interests.

Start ejecting Russia from international organizations? In what universe? Name the European country that will back us. Explain to me how it would profit us if they did. Kick Russia out of the G-8 and . . . what? They'll back down and simply abandon their paranoia about encirclement?

Oh, sure, we'll have the Georgian equivalent of the Dalai Lama over to the White House and give some speeches, but we're not going to even begin to jeopardize a half dozen different vital American interests for the sake of Georgia.

Which makes McCain's entire approach on this a bluff. A transparent bluff. A bluff visible from halfway around the world. A pandering, transparent bluff. McCain's statement that, "Today we are all Georgians," earned a bitter laugh from Georgia's president, Saakashvili.

Then there's the fact that one of McCain's principal foreign policy advisers Randy Schuenemann, has been, and his firm remains, in the employ of the Georgian government. What in God's name are they thinking? It's the kind of thing you at least have to get out in front of. They should at a minimum have been ready with a quiet statement indicating that Schuenemann had recused himself from those discussions.

It's the kind of thing a naif might do. The kind of thing you might expect from the junior Senator from Illinois, not from the man who is running on his experience. But Obama's statements have been very much in line with the administration.

Then, to top it off, comes McCain's oblivious statement (see video above) that, "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations." Say what? Was that intended to be a laugh line?

It was McCain who violated the one-president-at-a-time rule, not Obama. McCain upstaged his own president's State Department. And to what end? To put on a public display of outrage? It was politics, nothing more. John McCain upstaged the (still) president, bluffed and postured for his own political gain.

It's the kind of thing someone who wasn't ready for the presidency might do. The kind of thing a man who acted from pique and emotion rather than reason and prudence might do. It was stupid. And my guess is that it has hurt McCain.

Walk back the last year for McCain. He ran his first campaign into bankruptcy. He prevailed for his party's nomination by the skin of his teeth against a field of (mostly) second-stringers. He demonstrated his supposedly superior foreign policy experience by having the rug yanked out from under him by Nouri al Maliki, ran a series of embarrassingly juvenile attack ads, violated his promise not to question his opponent's patriotism, undercut his own ridiculous tire pressure gauge nonsense, made repeated gaffes, demonstrated again that he is incapable of mastering the basic skills of a campaign (cheese counter anyone?) and topped it all off by making an ass of himself on Georgia trying to out-Bush Mr. Bush himself.

Simple question: if you were starting a new company, who would you rather have running it? Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama?

If you wouldn't trust John McCain to run a million dollar start-up -- and I don't think there's not an honest person alive who would -- why would you trust him to run a superpower?

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