27 Aug 2008
The op-ed in today's WSJ by the McCain duo of Lieberman and Graham is far more important for this election, it seems to me, than parsing the dynamics of the Clinton-Obama marriage. What they are laying out in very clear terms is the agenda of a McCain presidency. The agenda is war and the threat of war - including what would be an end to cooperation with Russia on securing loose nuclear materials and sharing terror intelligence, in favor of a new cold war in defense of ... Moldova and Azerbaijan. I'm sure McCain would like to have his Russian cooperation, while demonizing and attacking them on the world stage, but in the actual world, he cannot. Putin and Medvedev are not agreeable figures, and I do not mean in any way to excuse their bullying. But this is global politics, guys, and these are the cold, hard choices facing American policy makers.
And in this telling op-ed Lieberman and Graham simply do not even confront them. It's all about a moral posture, with no practical grappling with the consequences. It's the mindset that gave you the Iraq war - but multiplied.
John McCain is making it quite clear what his foreign policy will be like: tilting sharply away from the greater realism of Bush's second term toward the abstract moralism, fear-mongering and aggression of the first. Not just four more years - but four more years like Bush's first term. If the Democrats cannot adequately warn Americans of the dangers of a hotheaded temperament and uber-neo-con mindset in the White House for another four years, they deserve to lose. If Americans decide they want a president who will be more aggressive and less diplomatic than the current one, then they should at least brace for the consequences - for their economy and their security.
In my view, the fear card has only one truly compelling target in this election: McCain.