Is the Georgia invasion ‘McCain’s moment?’

You may note that the pundits most eager to write about Georgia and what it means are of the conservative persuasion. And there’s no question that they, at least, believe that moments like this one make McCain look like a more attractive choice for commander in chief. George Will wrote this:

    Vladimir Putin, into whose soul President George W. Bush once peered
and liked what he saw, has conspicuously conferred with Russia’s
military, thereby making his poodle, “President” Dmitry Medvedev, yet
more risible. But big events reveal smallness, such as that of New
Mexico’s Gov. Bill Richardson.

    On ABC’s “This Week,” Richardson,
auditioning to be Barack Obama’s running mate, disqualified himself.
Clinging to the Obama campaign’s talking points like a drunk to a
lamppost, Richardson said this crisis proves the wisdom of Obama’s zest
for diplomacy, and that America should get the U.N. Security Council
“to pass a strong resolution getting the Russians to show some
restraint.” Apparently Richardson was ambassador to the U.N. for 19
months without noticing that Russia has a Security Council veto.

crisis illustrates, redundantly, the paralysis of the U.N. regarding
major powers, hence regarding major events, and the fictitiousness of
the European Union regarding foreign policy. Does this disturb Obama’s
serenity about the efficacy of diplomacy? Obama’s second statement
about the crisis, in which he tardily acknowledged Russia’s invasion,
underscored the folly of his first, which echoed the Bush
administration’s initial evenhandedness. “Now,” said Obama, “is the
time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint.”

    John McCain, the
“life is real, life is earnest” candidate, says he has looked into
Putin’s eyes and seen “a K, a G and a B.” But McCain owes the thug
thanks, as does America’s electorate. Putin has abruptly pulled the
presidential campaign up from preoccupation with plumbing the shallows
of John Edwards and wondering what “catharsis” is “owed” to
disappointed Clintonites.

In tomorrow’s paper, Kathleen Parker even more starkly — and more amusingly — contrasts McCain to both Bush and Obama.

Whomever you like for president, you gotta admit the KGB line is a good one. It’s a favorite of McCain’s, and we’re likely to hear him saying it more. His campaign is already putting out the line that events in Georgia have shown him to be "‘Prescient’ On Russia And Putin."

So how about it, folks? Does this affect your choice for November, and how? Does it make you more likely to vote for McCain — or for Obama? Or does it not affect your thinking one way or the other?

Yes, it’s grotesque to speak of such awful events in terms of its effect upon an election, but face it, folks: About all that you and I and the guy down the street can do in reaction to what’s happened is choose the guy who’s going to lead us in a world in which Russia knows it can get away with stuff like this.

24 thoughts on “Is the Georgia invasion ‘McCain’s moment?’

  1. Harry Harris

    McCain had his “moment” when he raced out front with a pronouncement that ignored the need to have one voice in a foreign crisis. His veiled threats reveal his groping foreign policy style – bad news, Bush is still President, and Condi Rice is still Secretary of State. Anything beyond broad pronouncements and statements of support for official US policy muddies the water and can undercut the real diplomacy which is and should be done in private. It is just posturing, and can be counterproductive.

  2. Gary Gross

    I just posted something about the contrast between Sen. McCain’s handling of this crisis & Sen. Obama’s attention to the Russian-Georgian crisis. Here’s the link to my post:
    Sen. McCain got on the phone & talked with President Saakashvili to learn firsthand what Russia was doing, then he issued a stern rebuke to Putin.
    Today, Sen. McCain gave a detailed, lengthy speech about what’s at stake in Georgia. Sen. Obama issued a brief statement, then returned to the sand & surf of Hawaii with his family.
    Some contrast, huh?

  3. Harry Harris

    McCain is not the President, and should know better than to go out in front on a foreign crisis. If a Democrat made those same statements, Condi Rice would be publicly apoplectic.

  4. bud

    Sen. McCain got on the phone & talked with President Saakashvili to learn firsthand what Russia was doing …
    – Gary
    Mr. Saakashvili is hardly an unbiased source of information. This is a very complicated matter and apparently the Georgians are hardly innocent bystanders. Harry’s right, the presidential candidates need to stay out of this for now. One of them will have his chance in a few months, but for McCain to assume he has all the information he needs to properly judge this situation is presumptuous to the extreme. Obama has been more appropriate on this issue.

  5. Herb Brasher

    I do not understand what people think the President of the US is going to do when Russia invades a former Soviet republic. Threaten to bomb Moscow? I personally would rather see a little less “trigger-happy” person in charge of foreign policy. Mr. Bush seems to have become wiser as he got older. I hope we don’t have to start school over with the next guy.

  6. Mark

    Military contractors about to lose their “money trees” inside Iraq and the Bush Administration are planting new seeds within the McCain campaign and in the minds of gullible Americans hoping to grow contracting opportunities–WARS–anywhere they can. These contractors, their lobbyists and their chosen candidates like McCain, see opportunities, growing like money trees, in this Russia-Georgia clash. Meanwhile the main stream media isn’t following the money, just like they failed to do in the run-up to the Iraq War, as a key McCain advisor and lobbyist for Georgia, urges McCain to act-out his hawkish tendencies. Meanwhile American voters are asleep, not just at 3:AM but around the clock, and haven’t a CLUE what the contractors and the Republicans are up to.

  7. bud

    This is just too funny. Apparently John McCain, the self-proclaimed foreign policy expert, is plagarizing Wikepedia. Here’s an exerpt from a recent Joe Conason article:
    The discovery that John McCain’s remarks on Georgia were derived from Wikipedia, to put it politely, is disturbing and even depressing—but not surprising. Under the tutelage of the neoconservatives, who revealed their superficial understanding of Iraq both before and after the invasion, he favors bellicose grandstanding over strategic thinking. So why delve deeper than a quick Google search?
    -Joe Conason
    I guess funny is not really the appropriate word. John McCain has somehow managed to sell himself as some sort of expert on foreign policy yet he seems unable to grasp the world as it exists in the 21st century. Surely no one really believes we still have any great clout over the Russians any more. Thanks to Bush and his misguided pre-emptive war against the hapless Iraqis we need to work on our own moral standing in the world before we start preaching to others.

  8. Mike Cakora

    Early on Bush tried all sorts of carrots with Putin, but the durn guy apparently reverted to his KGB ways as journalists critical of his regime started turning up dead.
    Sure, McCain pushed Bush, but for a pretty good reason. McCain has had a soft spot in his heart for Georgia and some of the smaller countries Putin has chosen to intimidate; he has visited the places and met the leaders. Folks forget about the Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, the latter featuring the mysterious poisoning of the good guy, Viktor Yushchenko. McCain just has an affinity for brave folks and the leaders and most of the population of Georgia and Ukraine are pretty brave.
    Kathleen Parker’s column in today’s issue of The State is a treat too.
    Gary — Great blog post, thanks.

  9. Brad Warthen

    Here’s one of those things that are just going to continue to stand between bud and me.
    Mr. Saakashvili is our guy. The Americans and their friends are the good guys in any kind of confrontation with a KGB-led ex-superpower with an inferiority complex.
    That’s the big picture. That’s always the big picture. If your guy — whether it’s Saakashvili getting trigger-happy or the Israelis backing settlements or whatever — is out of line, you tell him so, and try to get him to amend his ways. You take responsibility for him and his actions; you have mingled your affairs with his. But you don’t lose sight of the big picture. You don’t look at something like this and act as though both sides are somehow morally equivalent — or equivalent in terms of the ways their goals line up with this country’s legitimate interests. You don’t confuse the bully with his victim, whatever the victim did just before he got pounded.
    And I’ll add that I can’t imagine any issue about which it would be more important to know the thoughts of the next POTUS. No, you don’t interfere, and maybe calling Saakashvili at such a moment is a bad call — I haven’t made up my mind about that. But you say what you’d do, and you demonstrate your comfort with the issues and the players. No kind of situation goes more to the core of the job than this kind.
    Finally, I don’t know WHAT the U.S. should do in a situation like this. But I’m not running for president. I do expect anyone who wants that job to have a better idea of what to do than I do.

  10. Brad Warthen

    Now watch this — no sooner do I mention moral relativism than someone will parrot Putin and say our invasion of Iraq somehow equates to, or excuses, what he’s doing in Georgia.
    He says things like that to make those who already wish us ill (the Chavezes and Ahmadinejads of the world) feel better about lining up with him. And they should be the only ones willing to make the leap of logic that such a line of “reasoning” requires.
    But as soon as he said it, it occurred to me how many people in THIS country, people wrapped up in their own ideology of “My Country, Always To Blame,” will nod their heads and say his analogy is perfectly apt. After all, they’ve said the same themselves, many times.
    Just watch.

  11. Tim

    It certainly reinforces my sense that John McCain would be a foreign policy disaster if elected president. McCain is exploiting a dangerous situation for political purposes. He’s risking people’s lives so that he can look tough and he doesn’t even seem to grasp what’s going on. That K,G,B line, which you praise, is not a good line. It’s insane. John McCain’s old line on Barack Obama was that he’d rather lose a war than win an election. Well it’s looking to me like John McCain would be willing to start a war to not just to win an election, but marginally increase his chances of winning an election. The man is an empty joke. I just hope this country realizes that before we have a white house whose policy is being drafted by lobbyists for some of the worst actors on the national scene. I mean — will other small countries be able to pay $200,000 to get us to back them up in wars against the foreign neighbors that make them nervous? Because that’s essentially what you’re looking at with Georgia — John McCain’s top foreign policy aide is a lobbyist whose firm works for Georgia. Check out the Washington Post:

  12. bud

    Remember an incident that occurred in Sarajevo back in 1914? One Crown Prince was assasinated that year. A tragic event to be sure but one that should have remained just a singular event. But because the great powers of Europe had chosen who would be “our guy” as Brad would say, the entire continent exploded into a major war that eventually spread to the entire world.
    So now we have an incident in Europe involving “our guy”, Mr. Saakashvili, who claims his nation’s soveriegnty has been compromised by his powerful neighbor. Oh boo hoo, what to do. In the mind of the war monger such as Brad or John McCain we simply must stand behind “our guy” at all costs no matter what the circumstances are.
    This is the kind of thinking that leads to war, death and destruction on a large scale. This is not any business of the U.S. We can arbitrate a peace and nothing more. To blindly stand behind the leader of a country who may have done some ethnic cleansing is really counter productive to American interests. Apparently there is no end to the foreign entanglements some poeple are willing to accept simply to say we stood by “our guy”.

  13. bud

    How about our current POTUS? He becomes invisible during times of crisis. He’s either (1) reading to school kids for 7 looooooooong minutes after he’s told about the second plane hitting the WTC (2) celebrating John McCain’s birthday while hundreds drown in New Orleans or (3) patting the backside of female volleyball players while Georgia burns. What a piece of work he is.

  14. p.m.

    No, bud, I don’t remember that incident in Sarajevo in 1914.
    I’m 55, and I think that’s pretty old, but I’d have to be darn close to 100 to remember the Serbian duke assassinating the Austrian heir to the throne.
    Or was it the Austrian duke assassinating the Serbian heir to the throne?
    I’ll check Wikipedia and get back to you.
    I do remember hearing something about that Sarajevo thing, though. Interesting that you would think you know enough about that trigger for World War I and the circumstances then to say almost a century later that the war should have been avoided. I’ve been under the impression that the good guys won that one and WWII, also. Can you tell me what the world would be like now had WWI not been fought? Would we be eating sauerkraut, sushi, borscht or pasteurized processed cheese food?

  15. bud

    P.M. go check out a European map showing the countries just prior to WW I. It shows far fewer than we have today. Perhaps a dozen major countries in all. Today there are probably twice that many. In the years leading up to WW I the nations of the world coelesced into these empires (British, French, German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman). Today the British empire is largely no more. Germany is about 2/3 the size that it was in 1914. The French have abandoned their overseas colonies. Austrian dissolved into many nations (Austria, Hungary, Cheq Republic, Slovakia). And of course Russia has fragmented into a dozen countries now including Poland and of course Georgia. And then there’s the Ottoman empire. Iraq used to be a part of that. Now it’s our mess to deal with.
    My point is this. People like to be a part of thier own tribe and not some impersonal empire. That’s as true for the people of the breakaway republics of Georgia as it is for Georgia itself. So who has the moral high ground here? Seems like the folks in the breakaway provinces. Would that make the Russians the good guys simply rescuing the downtrodden? Maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s certainly much more complicated than Granpa McCain would have you believe.

  16. Doug Ross

    Another dose of reality that Brad will choose to ignore due to his hero worship…
    “John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
    The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann’s personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue.”

    McCain is as ethically challenged as any typical career politician. The flow of money is all that matters to them.

  17. Harry Harris

    On Brad’s “My country always wrong” point. It’s McCain who is foolish, not the country. Bush’s response has been measured and realistic. There are two key things wrong with McCain’s public pronouncements. He has no official standing to be issuing reassurances to any foreign government involved in a crisis no matter how he admires their spunk. He should simply broadly state his support and solidarity with official US policy (the President)and our allies efforts to resolve the crisis. The other shortfall is making public pronouncements on matters that should be and are likely in private negotiation. Some of these so-called foreign policy experts don’t realize that public posturing can hamper real results and stake out positions that later prove to be unworkable. I prefer the mature, private efforts of the real diplomats (e.g. Sarkozy, who has official NATO standing)to the schoolyard posturing of politicians playing to their home audience.

  18. David

    Neither McCain, Obama nor anyone else in this nation are prepared for what is coming, and which is clearly being signalled by Putin and his overt aggression right now. I think that in the very near future we’ll see Russian missiles in Cuba. I think we’re already seeing very clear signs of collusion and conspiracy to manipulate world petroleum markets that have resulted in unprecedented price runups and volatility.
    Of course Obama is ridiculously unprepared and unqualified to deal with an increasingly belligerent and malevolent Russia.
    But McCain will not be able to meet this terrible challenge either. In his case, the lack of will and resolve we’ve demonstrated to become both energy-independent AND fiscally responsible have turned us into Putins’ bitch. And he very well knows it.
    And we can expect no help or courage whatsoever from the UN, any EU countries, or China. Especially China. If anything, China will help Putin take us out.
    Nope: Neither of these guys can or will get the job done. Unless we begin showing some national resolve a out our energy needs, we’re sunk.
    Where is Superman?

  19. bud

    Although David’s comments are a bit overstated I think he’s on to something. Our dependence on foreign oil, thanks in part to the decades long love affair with drilling for oil, has put us in a very precarious situation. The Russians have plenty of oil and NG which the rest of the world desperately needs. The Europeans have moved away from dependence on foreign oil but still rely heavily on NG. The U.S. of course still lives in a state of denial. Just look at the polling numbers that show large majorities believe opening up the ANWR and OCS will reduce gasoline prices.
    While I don’t believe we’ll see missiles in Cuba it’s likely the Russians will use their fossil fuels as leverage to bully the U.S. into making foolish decisions with regard to foreign policy. Sadly the last 8 years of our government’s utter lack of leadership on energy and fiscal responsibility have put us in this precarious position.

  20. Lee Muller

    BIG LIE: “Europeans have moved away from dependence on foreign oil.”
    Norway and the UK have offshore wells which produce a surplus they can EXPORT.
    Serbia has its own oil fields.
    France and other countries import oil from Russia and the mideast, or have built lots of NUCLEAR electric generation plants.

  21. David

    Bud, you agree with me that the power presently being wielded Putin derives from his control of petroleum and natural gas…and then you go into the standard leftwing nonsense about how wrong America is to want to develop our domestic resources. This kind of wrongheadedness and glaring disconnect from either reality or logic is why this issue is a loser for the democrat party. Ninety eight percent of the American public know you people are dead friggin wrong about this.

  22. bud

    David, I don’t think we should obsess over drilling for oil. We already drill like crazy for oil. What I want us to do is get away from our dependence on oil. Any tiny increase in domestic production only continues our addiction. And that’s what this is. We simply must power our country with something other than oil, period.

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