The world according to John McCain is one in which America is triumphant at home and abroad thanks to the Bush legacy, rolling to victory internationally and mastering its domestic economic problems. If daily news, like the 10 French soldiers killed by a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and the imminent government nationalization of much of the U.S. mortgage-lending industry, would seem to deny such a rosy scenario, then that only shows skeptics lack the courage that sustained McCain as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
There you have it - in a capsule, the McCain campaign for president, an irrational mélange of patriotic swagger and blindness to reality that is proving disturbingly successful with uninformed voters. How else to explain the many millions of Americans who tell pollsters they prefer a continuation of Republican rule when so many of them are losing their homes to foreclosure and the nation is bankrupted by out-of-control military spending?
What's peculiar about this beginning is that McCain has acknowledged that the nation is facing troubles. In fact, here is an ad in which he acknowledges as much. Here it is. Furthermore, mortgages aren't about to be nationalized they have been since Fannie and Freddie were created as Government Sponsored Entities.
Now, while the beginning of the piece is peculiar and dishonest, the rest of the piece is painful to read. That's because Robert Sheer can't come to grips with the idea that we have succeeded in Iraq and thus he insists on turning our success into failure.
While Mideast oil-rich nations we protect refuse to fully open the oil spigots as payback for our military efforts, McCain celebrates Gen. David Petraeus as his No. 1 hero for "victory" in Iraq. Aside from the reality that victory there is now defined as returning to the level of stability provided by Saddam Hussein, whom the Bush administration admits had nothing to do with the bin Laden-led terrorists, even that goal requires the cooperation of our former sworn enemies, Iran's ayatollahs.
Presumably McCain envisions a more favorable outcome for Georgia, to whom he has committed the unqualified support of the United States with his outrageously overreaching statement that "we are all Georgians." If Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had been in contact with the leader of a nation before and after that nation provoked a war, his campaign would be in a shambles. Not so McCain, who is acting as if he is already the elected commander in chief of a reconstituted neoconservative-dominated White House. By contrast, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been reduced to a blustering bystander.
Sheer seems to miss one very important point about present and past Iraq. The reason there was relative calm past Iraq was because Hussein forced calm through a police state. Now, there is relative calm in a DEMOCRACY. I suppose to someone like Sheer there is no difference. Furthermore, McCain never once linked Saddam to 9/11, nor did anyone in the administration. The only people that ever link Saddam to 9/11 are opponents of both in claiming either did.
His second paragraph is bizarre. In Sheer's world view, it is a bad thing to have personal relationship with an ally and a Democratic leader. He furthermore takes the blame America first world view that Georgia provoked the war and Russia is merely practicing self defense. Then, he has the chutzpah to proclaim that it is McCain with the warped world view. He continues.
That military victory in Iraq and any other trouble spot is the key selling point of the McCain campaign is odd, because McCain's credentials derive from participation in a war that resulted in the most ignominious defeat in U.S. history. How else to think of the sacrifice of almost 59,000 Americans and 3.4 million Indochinese in a war that even McCain has long since not seriously tried to defend. Surely McCain accepted the notion that a Communist Party-run Vietnam was compatible with U.S. security interests when he, along with Sen. John Kerry, led the fight for recognition of Vietnam.
Wouldn't it have been grand if McCain, who made his own pilgrimage of reconciliation to Hanoi, would draw the proper lesson from that sad chapter in American history - that victory isn't everything it's cracked up to be? Or by extension, the recent Olympic festivities in still-red China, where Bush was photographed quite happily near portraits of the once-dreaded Chairman Mao, whom U.S. propaganda had long described, quite erroneously, as chief sponsor of the Vietnamese communists.
These two paragraphs are among the most despicable things ever written by any columnist. He slanders McCain because he served in a war that the U.S. lost. Worse than that, it is among the most intellectually dishonest analyses ever written. Isn't the fact that McCain participated in a losing war all the more reason that he understands the value of winning. Not in the view of Sheer, Sheer would like McCain to acknowledge the deficiencies of winning, deficiencies which he conveniently doesn't list in this context.
We are reminded of how brilliant Republican Richard Nixon was in rejecting the neoconservative addiction to the Cold War that McCain embraces when the late president traveled to Beijing to make peace with the bloodiest communist dictator of all. It turns out that the various communist movements were nationalist above all else, and when we "lost" in Vietnam, the result was not attacks on the United States but a war between China and Vietnam.
The lesson McCain should have learned is that the world is a complex place, today's enemies may be tomorrow's negotiating partners - as Obama has at times dared to suggest - and that the neoconservative view of a Pax Americana is a dangerous fantasy. And a costly one at that - not only in lost lives and blowback from the regions we destabilize, but also in the dollars that American taxpayers must waste.
Thanks to the absurdly misdirected war on terrorism that McCain so enthusiastically supports, we spend more annually in inflation-adjusted dollars on the military than in any time since WWII, even more than during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Vote for McCain and forget about funding to solve the Social Security, Medicare and subprime mortgage disasters or anything else that truly would make America stronger.
Of course, China and the U.S. were never really allies, nor are we now, but merely we shared at the time, and maybe still now, a common threat, then the Soviet Union and now Russia. A similar analogy could have been made between FDR and Stalin. We became tenuous allies for a few years and immediately became rivals after WWII. What I am having trouble understanding is his point. Is he saying we should be more even handed because we never know when we will be able to negotiate with Putin?
Furthermore, in Sheer's view, the GWOT is a myth, a fabrication made by war mongers. To him it is money wasted that our military budget is almost as high as it was in Vietnam. Of course, during war the military budget ought to be high. In Sheer's view, the proper course of action is to negotiate with the terrorists and their sponsors, and furthermore, it appears to be a position Sheer seems to think that Obama will take. Furthermore, rather than the fact that most of the Middle East is run by tyrants and despots, it is our expansionary foreign policy, in Sheer's view, that causes their instability.
What frankly shocks me about pieces like this is not their intellectual dishonesty and ludicrous conclusions. What shocks me is that someone writes a paycheck to Robert Sheer to write something so absurd that a high school student could do better. The fact that Robert Sheer earns a living, a good one at that, to write such mumbled nonsense speaks wonders about where our media is at today.