Maddow to GOP: McCain is totally not who you want as your foreign policy expert

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:54 EDT
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Maddow on GOP McCain foreign policy
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On Monday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed how Republicans are doing themselves a disservice by allowing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to be their de facto leader and spokesperson on foreign policy.

Maddow began the segment by discussing President Barack Obama’s historic visits to Myanmar and Cambodia, the first time a sitting U.S. president has ever visited those countries. However, because of the pressing nature of events in the Middle East, Obama spent most of his press conference in Thailand, the third stop on his Asian visit, discussing Israel and Gaza, where tensions have flared over the last week.

“When you are the president, the presidency travels with you,” she said, “and when international crises happen, you weigh in, no matter where you are.”

The president, our closest ally Britain and much of the world are united around the position that Israel should, yes, be allowed to defend itself, but are urging the Israeli government to restrain itself with regards to launching a bloody, costly ground invasion of Gaza.

Everyone agrees on this, Maddow said, except for “one rogue state,” which she then corrected to “one red state,” before rolling footage of U.S. Republicans calling for the invasion of Gaza.

“The whole world calling for de-escalation, until Republicans go on morning news programs,” she said.

Maddow went on to say that the Republican Party is currently rudderless on foreign policy. Their presidential ticket combined a pair of foreign policy neophytes whose policy prescriptions abroad were mostly pale imitations of the president’s. Now that we are standing at the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, neocons in disgrace, what is the Republicans’ overarching world view?

“There is nobody in charge,” she said, “and that means, by default, that the guy who gets to be in charge is the guy who says he ought to be, the guy who says he’s the real Republican Party expert on foreign policy.” And for the Republican Party, that man is Sen. John McCain.

McCain, she said, is “leading the charge” to politicize the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Not only does McCain now say that he would block the nomination of Amb. Susan Rice to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but that he will block any and all nominations Pres. Obama makes for the position of Secretary of State until he sees the information he claims he wants to see regarding the attacks.

“This is coming from the man who failed to show up for the three hour, classified briefing in his committee last week,” Maddow said. He is so fired up about the issue, she said, that he’s willing for the country to go without a Secretary of State until he is satisfied with what he has been told about Benghazi.

“How did John McCain get to be the Republican Party’s North Star on foreign policy in 2012?” asked Maddow. And while his experiences as a downed pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam were courageous and “capital-H heroic,” she said, it frankly doesn’t translate into actual foreign policy acumen.

She then rolled a reel of McCain gaffes on the subject of foreign policy, including the “Bomb bomb Iran” joke, his assertion that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and his dogged refusal to ever admit that the Iraq War was anything other than a terrible foreign policy blunder. His prescription for Afghanistan? That we “muddle through,” somehow.

“It’s not just his judgment” that’s questionable, she said, “It’s often his basic grasp of the facts.”

She then played clips from press conferences where McCain made assertions that turned out to be completely false, including one from late in the Bush years when the senator tried to say that al Qaeda in Iraq were crossing over into Iran for terrorist training, then returning to Iraq, a statement what was fact-checked on the spot by McCain’s closest ally in the Senate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

Then, she played a video superset from “Up with Chris Hayes” of McCain just saying over and over that the U.S. should arm the rebels in Libya, Bosnia, Syria and Iraq, his apparent approach to all foreign policy flare-ups around the world, give more guns to the opposition.

“That just works everywhere!” Maddow quipped.

She concluded that McCain and the Republicans in Congress are failing to meet “even a baseline of competence,” and that while nobody is in charge, it would probably still be best to keep McCain away from TV cameras and microphones.

“Doing what John McCain says,” she said, “is no substitute for actual basic competence on this subject. Pick somebody else.”

Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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