Georgia on His MInd


Remember that contretemps over whether Barack Obama is too "presumptuous"? If that's the case, what do we make of McCain?

[H]e had offered Americans' prayers and thoughts in a conversation with Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili.

"He knows that the thoughts and the prayers and support of the American people are with that brave little nation as they struggle today for their freedom and independence. And he wanted me to say thank you to you, to give you his heartfelt thanks for the support of the American people for this tiny little democracy far away from the United States of America. And I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, ' Today, we are all Georgians,' " McCain declared.

I was travelling on Monday, so I missed McCain's text message asking me whether or not he could speak for me. I'm sure you got yours. Anyway, it seems like McCain's team clarified the stakes on Georgia and thinks they've provided evidence that their candidate is a leader while the Democrats run with a wimp.

"If you read the statements from the beginning, Senator McCain and Senator Obama, one had kind of moral neutrality to it that comes I think from inexperience," Lieberman said. "The other, Senator McCain, was strong and clear and principled and put America where America always wants to be."

Obama's statement, asking both nations to "show restraint," mirrors what the White House said. McCain's statement, though…

The McCain campaign put something out yesterday about crowds cheering in Tblisi when President Shakashvili quoted McCain's statement. I can't read their minds, but it seems very plausible to me that they were cheering because they read this as a call for the United States to take practical steps to help Georgia not as a piece of hollow political sloganeering. And that kind of thing — Georgiaphilic statements by American elites that lead Georgians to dramatically overstate the level of practical support they could expect from the United States in a confrontation with Russia — was one of the contributing factors to the current crisis. Moral judgments are an excellent thing, but it's cruel for leading politicians in a superpower to go around giving the citizens small countries implicit assurances of support that they have no intention of following up on.

Yep. I'm sure McCain pictures himself as Reagan at the Brandenburg gates, but he sounds more like Jimmy Carter to me. Making grand declarations about human rights from a position of weakness, and getting nothing for it. And doing it, presumptuously, as if he's already president.