McCain Doesn’t Seem to Know His Stuff

Yesterday I had a post on how Obama “knows his stuff.” This proves a welcom contrast from George Bush, who clearly does not. Recent statements from John McCain have raised the question as to how much John McCain really knows about current international problems. I’ve recently had a post on the large number of gaffes he has made on a subject which is supposedly his strong point. Fred Kaplan asks, How Much Does John McCain Really Know About Foreign Policy. He answers with a subtitle saying, “Not As Much As He’d Like You To Think.” Kaplan notes that some questioned if Obama would make any damaging gaffes on his overseas trip, and then moves on to McCain:

But, of course, it was Obama’s opponent, John McCain—the war hero and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee—who uttered these eyebrow-raisers. “Czechoslovakia” was clearly a gaffe, and understandable for anyone who was sentient during the Cold War years. What about the others, though? Were they gaffes—slips of the tongue, blips of momentary fatigue? Or did they reflect lazy thinking, conceptual confusion, a mind frame clouded by clichéd abstractions?

If Obama had blurted even one of those inanities (especially the one about the Iraq-Pakistan border), the media and the McCain campaign would have been all over him like red ants on a wounded puppy.

McCain caught almost no hell for his statements—they were barely noted in the mainstream press—most likely because they didn’t fit the campaign’s “narrative.” McCain is “experienced” in national-security matters; therefore, if he says something that’s dumb or factually wrong, it’s a gaffe or he’s tired. Obama is “inexperienced,” so if he were to go off the rails, it would be a sign of his clear unsuitability for the job of commander in chief.

It may be time to reassess this narrative’s premise—or to abandon it altogether and simply examine the evidence before us. Quite apart from the gaffes, in formal prepared speeches, McCain has proposed certain actions and policies that raise serious questions about his suitability for the highest office. As president, he has said, he would boot Russia out of the G-8 on the grounds that its leaders don’t share the West’s values. He would form an international “League of Democracy” as a united front against the forces of autocracy and terror. And though it’s not exactly a stated policy, he continues to employ as his foreign-policy adviser an outspoken, second-tier neoconservative named Randy Scheunemann, who coined the term “rogue-state rollback” and still prescribes it as sound policy.

Kaplan proceeded to discuss these points in more detail, showing little respect for McCain’s knowledge of foreign policy.

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