August 24, 2008

Rambo and the Red Phone

Many Americans believe that John McCain is the candidate most qualified to handle the war in Iraq.

Which, if you think about it, makes about as much sense as saying that Bill Clinton is the ex-president most qualified to teach an abstinence class.

Consider a few facts.

McCain’s track record on Iraq has been nothing short of abysmal. He predicted that success in Iraq would be “fairly easy” and that the U.S. could “win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time.” He said American troops would not “get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad.” He said that there was “no doubt” in his mind that American troops would be “welcomed as liberators.”

Hmm, let’s see: fairly easy success…overwhelming victory…no house-to-house fighting…American troops welcomed as liberators. Hmm…looks like McCain was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG!

If he were a student, he would have received an F. Which actually, now that I think about it, would be nothing new for John McCain. Remember, this is a guy who in 1958 graduated 895th out of 899 students at the naval academy.

Yes, McCain proudly served his government in Vietnam, dropping bombs and napalm on non-combatants, but unlike most Americans I don’t see how this qualifies him to be commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world.

It’s not like Iraq was his only mistake. For example…

On three separate occasions in March of this year, he claimed that Iran was training al Qaeda operatives. After twice making this claim at a press conference in Amman, Senator Joseph Lieberman finally stepped up and “reminded” McCain that, no, Iran is not training al Qaeda. This fact, of course, should be plain to anyone who has even a basic knowledge of the Middle East: not only is there no evidence to support the claim, but, as even the President should know by now, al Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist organization, while Iran is a Shiite government.

Appearing on Good Morning American in July, he mentioned “the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.” Of course, there is no Iraq-Pakistan border: Iran sits between the two countries.

Shortly thereafter, he told Katie Couric that the surge “began the Anbar awakening.” However, as General Petraeus has testified before Congress, the Anbar awakening began in the fall of 2006, before Bush even announced his plans for a surge.

Now I’m not saying that John McCain is dumb. Perhaps he’s just intellectually lazy. Which is substantiated by the fact that, before voting to authorize war in 2002, he didn’t even read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

On top of all this, McCain is well known for his volatile temper. “He would disagree about something and then explode,” former Republican Senator Bob Smith recalls. “[There were] incidents of irrational behavior. We’ve all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I’ve never seen anyone act like that.”

Says former Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier: “People who disagree with him get the f*** you. I think he is mentally unstable and not fit to be president.”

Robin Silver recounts a time when he and fellow medical doctor Bob Witzeman met with McCain to discuss the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel. When the doctors began to broach the topic, the senator “slammed his fists on his desk, scattering papers across the room. He jumped up and down, screaming obscenities at us for at least ten minutes. He shook his fists as if he was going to slug us.”

Yet this is the man we want leading our military? A man who seems no more knowledgeable of the world than the current president? A man with the temperament of a schoolyard bully? Do we really want Rambo answering the “red phone” at 3 in the morning?