In the Arena

Shame on You, John McCain

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STAN HONDA / AFP / Getty Images

Arizona Senator John McCain speaks at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Florida on Aug. 29, 2012

Listening to John McCain on Wednesday night, you had to wonder if Sheldon Adelson had been giving him some kind of break at the craps tables. His speech was a noxious compendium of the usual neocon blather. He rehearsed the canard that President Obama didn’t stand up for the Green Revolution protesters in the streets of Tehran (if he had, the regime would have had the rationale for a mass slaughter … oh, and by the way, the leadership of the Green Party, which I interviewed that week, vehemently expressed its support for the Iranian nuclear program — all except Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who sadly reached out to Obama in an interview with me the night before the Iranian election was stolen).

And then there’s Syria, where John McCain sees freedom fighters, and the Israeli intelligence apparatus (and the Prime Minister’s office) sees the threat of al-Qaeda.

The point is, these things are complicated. But not to McCain. In an interview with Candy Crowley after his speech, the Senator drifted into bilious fantasyland. Asked about the difference between Obama and Mitt Romney on Iran, he said, “One of them has a relationship with Israel.” And then he said, “There is no U.S. credibility in the Middle East.” And then he said, “The people of Israel are being slaughtered.”

Nonsense, all of it. As Wolf Blitzer — who should receive a reward for truth telling this week — pointed out after McCain slunk off the screen, the military and intelligence relationship between the U.S. and Israel is stronger than it has ever been. The joint cyberwarfare effort has been devastating to the Iranian nuclear program. There are differences, to be sure. The U.S. President, following the precedent of all his predecessors since Richard Nixon, thinks the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands is a bad idea.

Obama has wisely scaled down the war against al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists to the special forces, drone operation it should have been all along. It has been extremely effective. So far as I can tell, McCain’s position as he approaches his dotage, is full-scale war everywhere, whenever possible.

This is disastrous, dangerous and sad.