McCain’s mind works as follows: all situations are divided between good and evil. No one is simply mistaken, confused, immature, unwise, or, perhaps, correct in a way that McCain cannot yet perceive. Though it’s become a bad word, there is such a thing as nuance, and it’s particularly valuable when we’re talking about relations with a large country that we’re not at war with that happens to have thousands of nuclear weapons. McCain seems to think that doubling down on the aggressive policy in the Middle East is good and brave and heroic, so he’s seeking expensive and risky confrontations with China and Russia halfway around the globe, even as he shies away from securing our own frontiers with nearby Mexico. The latter is prosaic and humdrum, while crusades for democracy in the Caucuses, well, that’s the stuff history is made of. (Unfortunately, that history will be entitled the Decline and Fall of America.)
McCain has the following in mind:
President George W. Bush said in 2001 that he had looked Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul.” Senator John McCain says he looked into Putin’s eyes “and saw three letters: KGB.”
McCain, 71, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, favors expelling Russia from the Group of Eight club of industrial powers. He calls for forging a “League of Democracies” to confront Putin and hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes over tomorrow, on Russian threats against former Soviet republics and rollbacks of domestic freedoms.
The candidate’s approach to Russia signals that he has aligned himself with hard-line foreign-policy advisers who favor democracy promotion above all and rejects advocates of doing business with authoritarian regimes when it suits U.S. interests.
This election should be treated as a referendum on open borders with Mexico and a policy of quasi-war with Russia. As bad as Clinton and Obama are, neither of them is so uncompromisingly single-minded and ideological about these two very stupid passions of John McCain.