Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with World Leaders?

Today John McCain appeared more than willing to hug George W. Bush again, concurring with the President's ridiculous position that it is a sign of weakness rather than one of strength for America to be willing to speak with other nations of the world, both those that are friendly and those that are not. The McCain campaign went even farther, with the candidate himself becoming unhinged in questioning Barack Obama's qualifications to be President because he doesn't adhere to Bushian views on foreign policy. The response from the Obama campaign was strong:

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor also weighs in: "It is the height of hypocrisy for John McCain to deliver a lofty speech about civility and bipartisanship in the morning and then embrace George Bush's disgraceful political attack in the afternoon.  Instead of delivering meaningful change, John McCain wants to continue George Bush's irresponsible and failed Iran policy by refusing to engage in tough, direct diplomacy like Presidents from Kennedy to Reagan have done."

The Obama campaign is completely right to invoke Presidents Kennedy and Reagan in talking about the importance of speaking with both friend and foe. They might have even invoked Teddy Roosevelt, who McCain claims to model his career after but who in fact McCain seems to know and understand little about, a President who won a nobel peace prize while in the White House specifically because of his willingness to engage with the world.

But I'd go even a step further and ask why John McCain is afraid to speak with Iran. What is it about Iran that scares McCain so much? Or is it that McCain believes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei are so crafty that they would trick an American President into inadvertently ceding the state of Maine or American Samoa to Iran? Or alternatively, is it that McCain simply does not know how to act in a manner different from his true political role model, George W. Bush?

America shows its strength by being part of the world, not receding from it. If there is any lesson to learn from the period between the two world wars it is exactly that -- it is entirely counterproductive for America to turn inward and be afraid to engage with the world in a meaningful way. But when America is willing to speak with unfriendly nations from a position of strength -- whether President Kennedy speaking with Premier Kruschev, President Nixon speaking with Chairman Mao or President Reagan speaking with Premier Gorbachev, to take three examples -- both America and the world more broadly can reap serious benefits.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, foreign policy, John McCain (all tags)



Re: Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with

For Bush and McCain, "diplomacy" means firing a few laser-guided missiles in their general direction.

by rfahey22 2008-05-15 03:06PM | 0 recs
McCain = 3rd Bush term.

Stop the drama, vote Obama.

by Firewall 2008-05-15 03:09PM | 0 recs
Check out TPM

There is an epic clip of a right wing radio dude defending Bush's statements and getting taken to school by none other than Matthews.   Guy couldn't explain to Chris what Chamberlin (sp?) did in 1938 - kept saying "he's an appeaser! he's an appeaser!"

awful, but hilarious.

by quixote27 2008-05-15 03:09PM | 0 recs
Tricky Dick in 1972 (an election year)

by Al Rodgers 2008-05-15 03:10PM | 0 recs
TGipper with Tariq Aziz in the Oval Office in 1983

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

► O/t Gawd, Anwar Sadat had the strength to travel to Israel and spoke to the Knesset in 1977.

by Al Rodgers 2008-05-15 03:17PM | 0 recs

it's because he would get confused and say the wrong thing.  Or he would get mad and punch someone.

by JustJennifer 2008-05-15 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: headsup to Dem Party

If Hillary were presumed nominee, Repubs couldn't attack her for being naive and weak on national security -- Obama blew it when he said he'd talk directly with Iran without preconditions.

Wake up Dems:  Hillary is stronger on health care, stronger on foreclosure crisis, and stronger on national security.  Americans want a strong president who will fight for them.

by moevaughn 2008-05-15 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: headsup to Dem Party

Way to enforce the Repub talking point.  Nice Democratic unity.

by quixote27 2008-05-15 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: headsup to Dem Party

And for what it's worth - same goes for the dude a bit above who just spammed "Stop the Drama Vote Obama".

by quixote27 2008-05-15 03:34PM | 0 recs
Re: headsup

Obama's the one who said no preconditions.  Buck stops with him.
by moevaughn 2008-05-15 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with World

I'm surprised no one has dug up the Churchill quote of "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war":


by AndyG 2008-05-15 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with World

We have a history of sitting down with our 'enemies', and discussing differing positions, trying to forge consensus and common ground. When these discussions occur, generally, much of the global and fringe chatter dissipates and we find some agreement. See FDR/Stalin, WW2 ends; Nixon/China, China opens; Reagan/Gorb, Cold War ends. When did we become afraid of our own greatness? Since the Cold War, it seems we have stuck our head in the sand, and waited for the world to engage US. To me, what better way to show the true strength of the American experiment than to engage those that openly and vehemently despise you?

by stryan 2008-05-15 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with World

no one cares what Bush thinks anymore. saying these kinds of things used to work for him and they got him re-elected but he has absolutely zero credibility.

by falseintellect 2008-05-15 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Is John McCain Afraid to Speak with World

And this is exactly the frame as well.  "Why is John McCain afraid to talk to leaders he dislikes?  If Sen. McCain can explain why and George Bush are so scared of talking, and so eager to send Americans to die instead, we might be able to calm Bush and McBush down by explaining to them why the bipartisan policy of 200 years---from Washington to Lincoln, from FDR to Reagan---is the right one."  

by bosdcla14 2008-05-15 03:47PM | 0 recs
Politics 101

After 8 years Bush still has no clue what the purpose of diplomacy with adversaries is. He thinks it's to convince them that you are right and they are wrong. Well we are not going to convince the Ayatollahs so why talk to them? And he illustrates his idiocy on the floor of the Knesset so the whole world can fully appreciate what a complete jackass we have for a President.

Diplomacy is a weapon like any other. It is certainly not a confab to debate whose system is better. You can use it to outwit, out flank and diminish your enemies. You can also use it to prevent tensions between rival states from spiraling out of control to the detriment of both. Even enemies can have on occasion common interests. It is essential to wielding and projecting power effectively. For the last 8 years we have been fighting with one hand tied behind our back. No wonder that Iran has more influence over Iraq then we do despite the fact that it is our military occupying the country.

There is an old saying: "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer". We should be engaging Iran on every front on an ongoing basis.

by hankg 2008-05-15 04:01PM | 0 recs
Brilliant Phrasing Jonathan

I think weve found our phrase for the election:

John McCain is AFRAID to talk to foreign leaders.

Just brilliant.

by Seth Pearce 2008-05-15 05:27PM | 0 recs
Today's Events Did Put the Fear of God in Me

as was President Bush's wish, but not b/c I fear Obama's policy.  I'm scared to death that we're going to be stuck with McSame for another for years and I don't think I can take it.

by venavena 2008-05-15 06:00PM | 0 recs
Why Is McCain Afraid to Speak with World Leaders?

A: Because he can't remember their names.

by myddfree 2008-05-15 10:19PM | 0 recs


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