In response to Vladmir Putin’s New York Times editorial , John McCain recently penned his own response to the people of Russia. McCain was, no doubt, attempting to show Putin that two can play at this game, but where McCain went wrong was, well, in a lot of places. For starters, as this Salon article points out, while Putin published in at least a somewhat reputable news source, McCain published in the equivalent of a Russian tabloid.
Sure, you may say that everyone makes mistakes, and I would likely agree with you. But there are two problems with this. One, it is McCain’s job to be informed about international intricacies such as where the citizens in one the most influential nations in the world go to get their (reputable) news. Could you imagine making a blunder like this at your job and being let off the hook for it? My background is in finance, and if I say, accidentally sent a pitch book to “John Dorn” instead of “John Zorn,” I likely would have been fired. At the very least, I would have faced a severe reprimand with a decrease in pay.
What’s more disturbing about this incident, however, is it reflects how McCain’s lack of interest in the world impacts his knowledge of it. What do I mean by lack of interest? John McCain has been one of the hawkiest of politicians pushing for more than a limited strike in Syria. He’s encouraged the President to engage in a war for the purpose of regime change. This was one of his main conditions for voting yes on the strike in the senate. However, when it came time for the senate to meet, discuss, and educate on this grave issue, what was John McCain found doing? Playing video poker on his Phone.
Ambivalence of this sort exceeds ignorance and instead borders on exceptional arrogance, and should disqualify McCain from making any important decision on behalf of other Americans. If a leader is not willing to seek out the knowledge to understand how his proposals could actually play out, he is not intellectually curious enough to make serious proposals. The historical wreckage of this sort of mentality is described beautifully in this daily show episode clip, which I highly recommend everyone watching. “As my father once told me, when borders get squiggly, people get squiggly.”
I don’t think I’m saying anything radical here. Perhaps McCain is just bored of being in a leadership role for so long (he has been in Congress since 1982). If that’s the case, that’s fine – he should retire. Being a senator is a difficult, intellectually grueling job. Zoning out to play your river while everyone around you is discussing the gravest of matters shows that McCain either 1) can’t cut it anymore or 2) doesn’t care enough to cut it. Whatever the reason, McCain doesn’t appear to care sufficiently to learn about the potential consequences of the strategies he proposes, and his ignorance was only made more manifestly evident by his publishing in Pravda.
The Salon article I cited above put it perfectly: “If McCain’s mission was to prove that the United States is run by solipsistic buffoons who don’t even try to understand anything about the rest of the world before they go blundering out shouting hypocritical nonsense about freedom, well, mission accomplished.”
I am, of course, leaving out the discussion hinted at in this quote surrounding the hypocrisy of speaking across the world to people you don’t represent about how much you care about their freedom when you yourself attempt to crush one of the sacred liberties of your own people. Perhaps that’s a post for another day.
 Definitely a worthwhile read. While certainly wrought with problems of its own (such as a leader known for an incredibly poor history of civil rights violations pretending to be an even handed foreign policy leader), the article is still a fairly eloquent plea to the American people to get over their sense of “exceptionalism” that grants them policing “responsibilities” (or entitlement, depending on who you ask) around the world. A link to a Washington Post review and fact-check of Putin’s editorial can be found here.
 At least in theory.