My colleague and Senior Editor, Justin Baragona, did a marvelous job identifying and assessing Arizona Senator John McCain’s hypocritical, warmongering bologna on MSNBC earlier this week in the aftermath of the laughably suspect Crimean referendum. However, I’d like to take a step slightly farther back in time if we could. I’d like to travel back to last weekend when the ersatz maverick sullied my favorite morning read, the Opinion page of the New York Times.
Though the piece was actually published on Friday, March 14th, it wasn’t until Saturday that I scrolled the headline, Obama Has Made America Look Weak, across the screen of my smartphone. Similar to what I imagine were the conscious streams of many an unprepared liberal, my first thought was: “I hope this is just an ironic hook, but something tells me I am about to read the words of Lindsay Graham or John McCain.”
There are times I hate being right and this was certainly one of those. But it was about to get much worse, with McCain opening his assault with a tried and true journalist trick of the right wing trade: the rhetorical question that actually affirms that which it proposes to query. McCain asks, “Should Russia’s invasion and looming annexation of Crimea be blamed on President Barack Obama?”
The fact that he immediately responds with “No” means absolutely nothing. As Billy Crystal’s titular character wonders aloud in 1980s romantic comedy classic, When Harry Met Sally, “Oh geeze…what are we supposed to do? Call the cops? It’s already out there.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to make a citizens’ arrest of Senator McCain, for a veritable truckload of irresponsible, reactionary 20th century battle rhetoric he’s vomited up on the voting public since President Obama was inaugurated. I said it last week and I’ll say it again. The lack of public support that McCain and the bulk of his partymates have shown the POTUS in one delicate, dangerous international imbroglio after another, is nothing short of treasonous. Short of the divided loyalties of the Civil War, American history has seen nothing to rival it.
Of many instances in the Op-Ed where McCain claims not to impugn President Obama’s foreign policy as the root cause of the Crimean standoff (before doing exactly that), I think this was my favorite. McCain writes, “More broadly, we must rearm ourselves morally and intellectually to prevent the darkness of Mr. Putin’s world from befalling more of humanity.” Yes, pick up the weapons of “American exceptionalism,” which worked so well for us in the aughts. And it is just me or does the Republican party’s 21st century version of national superiority sound and feel an awful lot like the international bludgeon that many on the right would like us to wield in perpetuity? Violent wish fulfillment disguised as patriotism is a special kind of hypocrisy.
Earlier in the piece, McCain not so slyly makes the following observation about the general Obama military strategy: “In Afghanistan and Iraq, military decisions have appeared driven more by a desire to withdraw than to succeed.”
Um, yes, yes they have Senator McCain. And you want to know why? I know this is a trifling consideration for your party, but disengagements from money and life wasting Middle East quagmires have been more commonly referred to in the last decade as “the will of the people.” And I won’t even try to ask you to explain where it is that President Obama is supposed to “succeed” in Afghanistan and Iraq where his predecessor couldn’t. Should he continue looking for Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction then?
I applaud the New York Times for its long-running and dedicated efforts to bring all voices to the proletariat. But as for Senator McCain, the people outside of Arizona have spoken again, and again and again. They don’t want war. They don’t want shoot first and ask questions later diplomacy. And sir, they don’t want you in charge. Please find a way to support your Commander-in-Chief. Barring that, silence is golden.