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Decisions.

Hillary Clinton took a jab at Barack Obama and former pastor Jeremiah Wright today, saying: “[Wright] would not have been my pastor. You don’t choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend.” Homo-journo Andrew Sullivan’s so outraged by Clinton’s comments, he calls defeating “the Clintons” a “national imperative”. [Daily Dish]

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Mar 25, 2008
Tagged: , , , , , , ,
  • 38 Comments
    • ggreen
      ggreen

      And I thought the National Imperative was to ignore Andrew Sullivan. I heard he’s changing his name legally to Uncle Tom Sullivan. So appropriate to his anti-gay anything Republican ass-kissing.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 2:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • L.
      L.

      I cannot tolerate Andrew Sullivan and cannot see why anybody listens to a word he says! Nominate obama democrats and I will cast my first republicn vote ever for John McCain!

      Mar 25, 2008 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • akaison
      akaison

      I am going to support whoever is the Democratic nominee. I can’t believe after the last 8 years anyone is stupid enough to vote for the GOP. What do they have to do to you to make you realize they aren’t a viable alternative?

      Mar 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tim
      tim

      Andrew is a psycho assclown with a major crush on Obama.

      The man has no shame, no self awareness, and no sense of his responsibility for the horror or Iraq. “Who cares what this douchebag thinks?” Apparently, a lot of people. Which tells us a lot about what’s wrong with this country’s public discourse.

      Oh, and Sullivan is NOT a U.S. citizen, though he often implies otherwise on his blog and in public statements.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 3:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leland Frances
      Leland Frances

      Well, there’s ONE good thing to say about Sullivan’s roaring hard on for…er endorsement of Obama—we guess he’s stopped believing in the “blacks are genetically stupid” fake science of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray [“The Bell Curve”] whose work he promoted when he was editor of “The New Republic.” But then, technically speaking, Obama is only half-black so maybe that’s why Andy Pandy is willing to give HIM a pass. Or is it just a matter of “Anybody But Hillary—EVEN A HALF BLACK GUY”?

      As for the credibility and integrity of anything he’s written about the Clintons [OR Obama]—the HIV+ Mr. Sullivan, aka “RawMuscleGlutes,” was exposed years ago by Michelangelo Signorile for trolling online for bareback sex “bi-scenes, one-on-ones, three-ways, groups, parties, orgies and gang bangs” but no “fats and fems” at the same time he was demonizing gay men for their ”libidinal pathology” AND…..drum roll……Pres. Clinton for his “sexual recklessness.” Attempting to distract from the fact that the issue was not sexual freedom of choice but his own hypocrisy, Sullivan, of course, denounced Signorile for violating his “privacy” even though, through his publications, he had made the private acts of so many others, including a President of the United States, HIS business, the subject of his own self-righteous sermonizing—whenever, that is, RawMuscleGlutes took a break from sorting through responses to his personal ad.

      Privileged male Sullivan would overturn “Roe v. Wade” and has also pontificated at length AGAINST job protections bills like ENDA as creating unfair “special rights”—“the push for gay employment rights is unconvincing and whiny. …gay men and lesbians suffer no discernible communal economic deprivation and already operate at the highest levels of society.”

      And he was a screeching, demagogic drum major for the invasion of Iraq. “Sullivan’s Taliban style of argument and his rigid habit of separating the world into the blessed and the damned turns American politics into a free-fire zone where any deviation from his view of the national program is immediately leveled.” – Salon

      Most revelatory of many examples of Sullivan’s solipsism was his effectively declaring that “AIDS is over!” twelve years ago—more specifically the “end of the plague”—we assume, because wealthy white gay men in the US have access to anti-retrovirals unlike those apparently irrelevant tens of millions of Murray’s “genetically inferior” blacks.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason
      Jason

      I am with L., I have never supported the GOP however if Clinton does not get the node I will have to vote for the GOP or atleast a third party ticket. I dont trust Obama, and even more so after the Wright thing. I atleast know that Hillary will fight for what she believes in! Thats what I want in a President not someone that tells everyone what they want to hear. Obama seems to work that way he tells the people of OH that he is against NAFTA then turns to the Canadian gov. and tells them what they want to hear. Hmmm wonder if the same will go for the LGBT community?

      Mar 25, 2008 at 3:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • An Other Greek
      An Other Greek

      wow.
      That was a very well put together comment by Leland Francis.
      I have to agree with all of it, despite AS’s charisma and fluctuating positions…

      Oh, one more thing. Please do not hold AS’s endorsement against Obama. It’s not Barack’s fault that for once AS sees right…

      And for the poster’s threat, that if Obama is the candidate, he will vote for McCain, well, that sounds like the threat of a troll, not a democrat or a progressive…
      ——————————————————————————

      Mar 25, 2008 at 3:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • An Other Greek
      An Other Greek

      oh, Mr. Jason,

      take a deep breath and take a moment from your despair, you don’t know ALL the facts behind “NAFTA-gate”…

      here’s your chance to dig a little deeper if you care:

      http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/14797.html

      surprised?

      well, a lot of us are not, a lot of us knew this already, and that’s just one of the many reasons progressive back Obama over Clinton…
      —————————————————————————————

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alec
      Alec

      If Senator Clinton convinces the superdelegates to rally around her, I will vote for her in the general election. But I doubt I will campaign this time around. There have been too many disappointments in the last eight years, and I am tired of voting for “liberal” hawks. Senator McCain v. Senator Clinton is basically Nixon versus Nixon lite. How inspiring.

      While I agree with Sullivan on Senator Obama, I would not exactly court the gay community with that endorsement if I was running for president…

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      Andrew Sullivan needs to crawl under a rock somewhere. He is a loathsome, self-loathing homosexual. Senator Clinton was asked the question, and she answered it. She is absolutely correct that Sheik Obama should have shown leadership and turned on his heel when he heard or heard of the vulgar comments of the thug pastor Wright. Instead, in a calculating way usually ascribed to Sen Clinton or other female politicians, he waited until he was caught. And then he lied.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      AnOtherGeek, a threat to vote for McCain if Hillary is not our nominee does not make us trolls. I, too, have never voted Republican, but I will this time if Obama is nominated. I have lots of gay friends who say the same thing.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob R
      Bob R

      Leland Frances, welcome back, it seems like such a long absence from this and the TR blogs. Although I don’t always agree with your positions, I find your arguments well researched, amply documented and logically presented. I for one am glad to read your response to Andrew Sullivan, to me one of the most obnoxious Log Cabin Republicans I’ve ever encountered in the media. And like his GOP brethren a screaming hypocrite in every way.

      As for L and Jason, I’m thinking just the other way round. I have become so disgusted, so repulsed by the Bill and Hillary show, that should she become the nominee, I just might stay home. I’m hoping that a brokered convention might give us another alternative since Obama and Clinton have stirred up such deep resentments and animosities between Democrats that I doubt either of them will prevail in the national election. Senator McNut, like W should never serve in the Oval Office. But, like W before him, he will be given the victory because once again the Democratic candidates have defeated themselves. What a pathetic nation we’ve become that these are the best candidates we can offer. I think we’ve effectively seen the end of the Democratic Party as a national organization.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leland Frances
      Leland Frances

      Thanks Other Greek and Bob, but as much as I believe Sen. Clinton would be a better President, Obama would be far better than McShame.

      As much as both H & O are far from perfect in any number of areas, I am confidant that neither of them would try to further pack the Supreme Court with more troglodytes as Bush and other Repugs have and McShame—however less relatively bad than other Repugs he is—would also most certainly do. H & O have shortcomings on LGBT issues but McShame didn’t even know what the acronym means.

      The decades long future of the SC is THE most important issue to me in this election because it often has the ultimate say in regard to every issue that I care about. Please vote Democratic in November regardless of the nominee’s name.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 4:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darth Paul
      Darth Paul

      Actually, Hills, you CAN choose your family. You can’t choose your relatives, though. Gods, she sucks.

      Sullivan is a twat. All he does is bray pseudointellectual, uninspiring BS. He’s almost as bad as Ann Coulter.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob R
      Bob R

      Leland: Yes, I suppose I must agree with you even though it pains me. I am so tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for someone I really don’t like or support. This may be my last national election and I was looking forward to not just surviving Bush, but helping to cast a vote for a really meaningful candidate. But, taking the Supreme Court into consideration, you’re exactly right in your reasoning. I will end up voting for the Democrat and hoping that a solid, veto proof Democratic majority sits in Congress and makes up for the shortfall in Presidential timber.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CT-n-SF
      CT-n-SF

      I have never agreed with Sullivan on anything, but I am with him on defeating Hillary. This primary (or at least the harm to the Democratic Party caused by her) must come to an end.

      As for the alternative, I don’t understand how any clear-thinking progressive could vote for McCain after 8 years of Bush and the Republican crazies. McCain will expand the war in the middle east, the economy will worsen, and you can kiss the Supreme Court goodbye for the next 20 years.

      But I guess cutting your nose off to spite your face is common in American politics. That’s a shame.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ousslander
      ousslander

      What she said is perfectly correct. It would be idiocy to think that his pastor of twenty years has not informed his views.

      Now the Dems cannot go after the republicans for being supported by the nuts of the religious right.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 5:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bitch Republic
      Bitch Republic

      Hillary Clinton is right.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 5:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • el polacko
      el polacko

      i have myriad reasons for not supporting barrack, among them being my distaste for his “typical” supporters who attack any criticism of their idol with charges of being a troll or an operative of some clinton-machine. equally, i have no time for self-identified ‘progressives’ who use use cute slurs (see:repugs) for people with whom they disagree. given our apparent choices this election, i’ll be pulling the lever for either hillary or mccain who both strike me as reasonably moderate pragmatists. (yes, the court is a concern, but nominees don’t always prove to be the idealogues they were hoped/feared to be).

      sullivan is a bright guy but is so head-over-heels in love with barrack that it’s just plain embarrasing.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hisurfer
      hisurfer

      I think I’ve finally moved from supporting Hillary to just wanting her to go away, and to go away completely. I expected her to fight hard for the nomination. I didn’t expect her to continue to stoke meaningless conflicts – especially given that her and her husband have been through so many false, media-created ‘scandals’ themselves.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 6:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nitesurf
      Nitesurf

      Isn’t it time for both campaigns to move on to more important issues? This Wright thing has gotten completely tiresome.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 6:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Patrick C
      Patrick C

      Sullivan is going to re-post his “bareback” personal ad from a few years ago and hope, hope, hope that Obama comes across it and gives it a thought.

      Sullivan = clown

      Mar 25, 2008 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mary Lou Dobbs
      Mary Lou Dobbs

      AN OPEN LETTER TO ANDREW SULLIVAN.

      Shut the fuck up you pathetic sliver of shit.

      No ONE on this planet, or any other gives a flying fuck what you think.

      No matter how much you want to suck off Obama, it aint gonna happen. Now, you and Chris Crain go crawl in your Repuke hole and tell us again about those WMD’s they have in Iraq.

      BTW…how does anyone bareback a cow like you?

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jere
      Jere

      Wow, what if everyone tok a breath to stop attacking Andrew Sullivan (ad hominem attacks = bad logic) and looked at Senator Clinton’s offending statement. “You don’t choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend” As a gay man, I most certainly did choose my family. Just as I wasn’t given a choice in religion until I was an adult. Clinton’s comments betray a) a lack of awareness about what constitutes family for LGBT people, b) a lack of awareness about the deep community connections in churches and the difficulty in leaving them, and c) stereotypical white, heterosexual privilege in thinking. That is the news in this post, not the messenger.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      Woo, Mary Lou, no you didn’t mention Chris Crain. I had forgotten all about her. I used to work for her at the Southern Voice newspaper here in Atlanta. His little media empire is crumbling around him. Nobody reads those rags anymore.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      Jere, when Sen Clinton made reference to not being able to choose family, she wasn’t thinking of LGBT’s ability to make our own families. She was talking about BO comparing Wright to a crazy uncle. Do you even read the news?

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mjc
      mjc

      andrew sullivan.. GO AWAY. opportunist idiot.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chris
      chris

      I will not be voting for Barack Obama in the general election.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jere
      Jere

      Rickroberts, no kidding. Gee, somehow I missed that blindingly obvious context. [/sarcasm]

      My point is that regardless of the context, Clinton’s comment perpetuates a system in which LGBT families (and all “chosen” families, for that matter) are invisible.

      “She wasn’t thinking of LGBT’s ability to make our own families.” Clearly. And my point remains the same, she’s demonstrating stereotypical white, heterosexual privilege in her thinking, because an alternate to “you can’t choose your family” didn’t even cross her mind. If it had, she might have gone for a sophisticated response to the Wright controversy rather than the cheap political jab.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DanGOP
      DanGOP

      As my name betrays my party affiliation, I have to say, Andrew Sullivan is a waste of my time. He has never had anything worthwhile to say. I’ll vote for Sen. Clinton or Sen. McCain, but never for Obama. I’ll vote for David Duke over Obama (better the devil you know…). Sullivan’s endorsement is worth far more though, than it should be. Time to take Sully down a peg.

      Mar 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr C
      Mr C

      To RickRoberts, Stupid ass Mary Lou Dobbs,and all the other Southern FAGS and whoever else.
      If Barack gets the nod and you vote for McCain PLEASE do so.

      Because you FAGS will so suffer! As you as mothfuckers are prejudice and continue to think that only WHITE LGBT matters.

      Guess what? NOTHING and I MEAN NOTHING is going to get done for the LGBT community.

      So don’t get mad when those republicans especially the Southern ones Ms Rick &And stupid ass Mary Lou when they throw shit in your face and tell you “AIDS KILLS FAGS” Remember you supported them! a vote for McCain is a vote DEATH for the LGBTQ!

      YOU ASSHOLE.

      WITHOUT UNITY THERE ALWAYS BE FAILURE!!!!
      FOR WITH UNITY THERE IS STRENGTH!

      Mar 26, 2008 at 2:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hisurfer
      hisurfer

      dude, calling people asshole isn’t really the best way to promote unity.

      not that I haven’t called people names here; but I’m not demanding that they agree with me lock step and barrel either. After all, “unity” could just as easily be accomplished if you agreed with them as if they agreed with you.

      Mar 26, 2008 at 2:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      Mr C, your brand of unity is not one to which I wish to belong.

      Mar 26, 2008 at 7:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rickroberts
      rickroberts

      New Gallup Poll this morning: If McCain vs. Obama, 28% of Clinton Backers Go for McCain

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/105…..cCain.aspx

      This is what Mr Obama’s cynical association with homophobic and racist men of the cloth has accomplished. To quote Chris Hitchens: Religion Poisons Everything.

      Mar 26, 2008 at 8:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PuddyKatz
      PuddyKatz

      Andrew Sullivan wrote some very good books years, or decades, ago. I suggest people take a look at them. He is proof however that blogging is bad for your mental health. I am beginning to think that opinion blogs make people stupid, both writers and readers. No one needs to know his half-baked thoughts on every thing that came down the pike, ideas he would have reworked or left out of any book. It damages him to put such ideas out there and damages us to read and absorb them.
      Sad.
      On the other hand, bitches, there is something called an “ad hominem” argument. It is a bad thing! It means arguing from the person or personality of the individual you disagree with. Whether Mr. Sullivan’s positions are correct or not (on Hillary or Roe v Wade) does not depend on Sullivan’s personal life or personality or any barebacking issues he may have. Whether they are correct or not depend on their content and logic alone. Novel idea!
      It is also sad that so many people, (gay men included) cannot think logically.

      Mar 26, 2008 at 8:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr C
      Mr C

      That’s understandable Rick that you don’t since you don’t like Blacks anyway. So I’m not surprised. Nor do I care.

      Mar 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • leomoore
      leomoore

      Andrew Sullivan has as much relevance to the gay community as Anne Heche. If everyone ignores him, doesn’t buy his books, or turn off the television every time he is trotted out, he might go back to England where he is utterly unrecognized as a celebrity intellectual.

      Mar 27, 2008 at 2:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Afroguapo
      Afroguapo

      Whoever is the nominee, I will vote for HRC or BHO. It’s that dire.

      This article can be found on the web at
      http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080324/dreyfuss

      ——————————————————————————–

      Hothead McCain
      by ROBERT DREYFUSS

      [from the March 24, 2008 issue]

      If you’ve followed Senator John McCain at all, you’ve heard about his tendency to, well, explode. He’s erupted at numerous Senate colleagues, including many Republicans, at the slightest provocation. “The thought of his being President sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper, and he worries me,” wrote Republican Senator Thad Cochran, shortly before endorsing McCain.

      You’ve heard about his penchant for bellicose rhetoric, whether appropriating a Beach Boys song in threatening to bomb Iran or telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that he doesn’t care what he thinks about American plans to install missiles in Eastern Europe.

      And you’ve heard, no doubt, about McCain’s stubbornness. “No dissent, no opinion to the contrary, however reasonable, will be entertained,” says Larry Wilkerson, a retired army colonel who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s top aide. “Hardheaded is another way to say it. Arrogant is another way to say it. Hubristic is another way to say it. Too proud for his own good is another way to say it. It’s a quality about him that disturbs me.”

      But what you may not have heard is an extended critique of the kind of Commander in Chief that Captain McCain might be. To combat what he likes to call “the transcendent challenge [of] radical Islamic extremism,” McCain is drawing up plans for a new set of global institutions, from a potent covert operations unit to a “League of Democracies” that can bypass the balky United Nations, from an expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus to a revived US unilateralism that will engage in “rogue state rollback” against his version of the “axis of evil.” In all, it’s a new apparatus designed to carry the “war on terror” deep into the twenty-first century.

      “We created a number of institutions in the wake of World War II to deal with the situation,” says Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top adviser on foreign policy. “And what Senator McCain wants to begin a dialogue about is, Do we need new structures and new institutions, both internally, in the US government, and externally, to recognize that the situation we face now is very, very different than the one we faced during the cold war?” Joining Scheunemann, a veteran neoconservative strategist and one of the chief architects of the Iraq War, are a panoply of like-minded neocons who’ve gathered to advise McCain, including Bill Kristol, James Woolsey, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Gary Schmitt and Maj. Ralph Peters. “There are some who’ve moved into his camp who scare me,” Wilkerson says. “Scare me.”

      If McCain intends to be a shoot first, ask questions later President, consider a couple of the new institutions he’s outlined, which seem designed to facilitate an unencumbered, interventionist foreign policy.

      First is an unnamed “new agency patterned after the…Office of Strategic Services,” the rambunctious, often out-of-control World War II-era covert-ops team. “A modern day OSS could draw together specialists in unconventional warfare; covert action operators; and experts in anthropology, advertising, and other relevant disciplines,” wrote McCain in Foreign Affairs. “Like the original OSS, this would be a small, nimble, can-do organization” that would “fight terrorist subversion [and] take risks.” It’s clear that McCain wants to set up an agency to conduct paramilitary operations, covert action and psy-ops.

      This idea is McCain’s response to a longstanding critique of the CIA by neoconservatives such as Richard Perle, who have accused the agency of being “risk averse.” Since 2001 the CIA has engaged in a bitter battle with the White House and the Pentagon on issues that include the Iraq War and Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The agency lost a major skirmish with the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which put the White House more directly in charge of the intelligence community. And now McCain wants to put the final nail in the CIA’s coffin by creating a gung-ho operations force. Scheunemann, who credits Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations with the idea, says the new agency is urgently needed to “meet the threats of the twenty-first century in a time of war, much as the OSS was created in a time of war.” And he disparages the CIA as a bunch of has-beens. The new agency would eclipse “an organization created to meet the needs of the cold war and hang out in embassies and try to recruit a major or two or deal with walk-in defectors,” Scheunemann told The Nation.

      But John McLaughlin, a former deputy director of the CIA who retired in 2004, is more than skeptical, and he worries that McCain doesn’t understand the need for Congressional controls over spy agencies. “You need to have Congressional oversight and transparency,” he says. “I would not recommend a new agency that is set up parallel to the CIA…. All of those things can be done within the boundaries of the CIA.” Told about McLaughlin’s comments, Scheunemann says, “Anyone who thinks that the agency today is a nimble, can-do organization has a different view than Senator McCain does.”

      The UN, too, would be shunted aside to make room for McCain’s new League of Democracies. Though the concept is couched in soothing rhetoric, the “league” would provide an alternate way of legitimizing foreign interventions by the United States when the UN Security Council won’t authorize force. Five years ago, on the eve of the Iraq War, McCain said bluntly before the European Parliament that if Security Council members resisted the use of force, or if China opposed US action against North Korea, “the United States will do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people.” Among the targets McCain cites for his plan to short-circuit the UN are Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe, Serbia, Ukraine and, of course, Iran–and he has already referred to “wackos” in Venezuela. According to Scheunemann, it’s an idea that bubbled up from some of McCain’s advisers, including Peters and Kagan, but it alarms analysts from the realist-Republican school of foreign policy. “They’re talking about a body that essentially would circumvent the UN and would take authority to act in the name of the international community, sometimes using force,” says a veteran GOP strategist who knows McCain well and who insisted on anonymity. “Well, it’s very easy to predict that the Russians and Chinese would view this as a threat.”

      McCain seems almost gleeful about provoking Russia. At first blush, you’d think he’d be more nuanced, since many of the foreign policy gurus he says he talks to emanate from the old-school Nixon-Kissinger circle of détente-niks, including Henry Kissinger himself, Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft. Their collective attitude is that as long as Moscow doesn’t threaten US interests, we can do business with it. But there is little evidence of their views in McCain’s policy toward Putin’s Russia. “I think it’s fair to assume that he’s most influenced by his neoconservative advisers,” says the GOP strategist.

      “We need a new Western approach to…revanchist Russia,” wrote McCain in Foreign Affairs. He says he will expel Russia from the Group of Eight leading industrial states, a flagrant and dangerous insult, one likely to draw stiff opposition from other members of the G-8. He refuses to ease Russian concerns about the deployment of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, saying, “The first thing I would do is make sure we have a missile defense system in place in Czechoslovakia [sic] and Poland, and I don’t care what [Putin's] objections are to it.” And he’s all for rapid expansion of NATO, to include even the former Soviet republic of Georgia–and not just Georgia but also the rebellious Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Since Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17, which was opposed by Russia, Moscow has said it intends to support independence of the two Georgian regions, making McCain’s goal of expanding NATO provocative, to say the least. “McCain says [NATO] ought to include Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are not under the control of the current Georgian government,” says a conservative critic of the Arizona senator. “Which, if not a prescription for war with Russia, is at least a prescription for conflict with Russia.”

      Earlier in his Congressional career, McCain was reluctant to engage in overseas adventures unless American interests were directly threatened. He opposed US involvement in Lebanon in the early 1980s, and in Haiti and the Balkan conflicts in the early 1990s. But as the post-cold war environment seemed increasingly to promise unchallenged American hegemony, McCain took up the neocons’ call for interventionism. His views crystallized in a 1999 speech, when he called for the United States to use tough sanctions and other pressure to roll back “rogue states” like Iraq and North Korea, adding, “We must be prepared to back up these measures with American military force if the existence of such rogue states threatens America’s interests and values.” In referring to “values,” McCain indicates his support for the notion that a selective crusade allegedly on behalf of freedom and democracy can provide a rationale for an aggressive new foreign policy outlook.

      “He’s the true neocon,” says the Brookings Institution’s Ivo Daalder, a liberal interventionist who conceived the idea of a League of Democracies with Robert Kagan. “He does believe, in a way that George W. Bush never really did, in the use of power, military power above all, to change the world in America’s image. If you thought George Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait till you see John McCain…. He believes this. His advisers believe this. He’s surrounded himself with people who believe it. And I’ll take him at his word.”

      Not surprisingly, the center of McCain’s foreign policy is the Middle East. “He’s bought into the completely fallacious notion that we’re in a global struggle of us-versus-them. He calls it the ‘transcendental threat…of extreme Islam,” says Daalder. “But it’s a silly argument to think that this is either an ideological or a material struggle on a par with [the ones against] Nazi Germany or Soviet Communism.” For McCain, the Iraq War, the conflict with Iran, the Arab-Israeli dispute, the war in Afghanistan, the Pakistani crisis and the lack of democracy in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are all rolled up into one “transcendent” ball of wax.

      More than any other politician, McCain is identified with the Iraq War. From the mid-1990s on, he and his advisers were staunch supporters of “regime change.” Scheunemann helped write the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, which funded Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress; joined Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century; and helped create the neoconservative Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002, with White House support. Together with Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback and a handful of other senators, McCain emerged as a major cheerleader for the war. Like his fellow neocons, McCain touted what proved to be faked intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq. Echoing Vice President Cheney, McCain said on the eve of the war, “There’s no doubt in my mind, once [Saddam] is gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators.” He pooh-poohed critics who argued that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s war plan was too reliant on technology and too light on troops, saying, “I don’t think you’re going to have to see the scale of numbers of troops that we saw…back in 1991.” When Gen. Eric Shinseki warned, a month before the war started, that occupying Iraq would require far more troops, McCain was mute.

      Today McCain portrays himself as a critic of how the war was fought, but his criticism did not emerge until long after it was clear that the United States faced a grueling insurgency. From the fall of 2003 onward, against a growing chorus of critics who called for US forces to withdraw, McCain repeatedly called for more troops to secure “victory.” By late 2006, when the bipartisan Iraq Study Group called for pulling out all combat brigades within fifteen months, McCain, Lieberman and a hardy band of neocons, led by Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and joined by Cheney, persuaded Bush to escalate the war instead. Asked if McCain directly lobbied Bush to reject the ISG’s recommendations, a McCain aide says, “There were many encounters with the President’s senior advisers and with the President on this issue.” Fred Kagan, the surge’s author and Robert Kagan’s brother, told McClatchy Newspapers, “It was a very lonely time. He went out there for us.”

      In January McCain famously said US forces might end up staying in Iraq for a hundred years. It’s clear that for McCain the occupation is not just about winning the war but about turning Iraq into a regional base for extending US influence throughout the region. According to the original neocon conception of the war, as promoted by people like Perle and Michael Ledeen, Iraq was only a first step in redrawing the Middle East map. Gen. Wesley Clark said recently that on the eve of the war he was shown a Pentagon document that portrayed Iraq as the first in a series of operations to change regimes in Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Lebanon.

      When The Nation asked Scheunemann why US forces would have to stay in Iraq so long, he explicitly linked their presence to the entire Middle East. “Iraq might be stable, but what about the region?” he responded. “Other countries could be in turmoil; other countries could be threatening Iraq. It could be an external threat that we need to have troops there for, à la South Korea, à la Japan.” He added, “I understand your readers may think it’s some sort of malevolent imperialist conspiracy.” Conspiracy or not, it’s clear that McCain sees our presence in Iraq as a permanent extension of US power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

      McCain has made no secret of his belief that using force against Iran is the only way to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. “There is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that, my friends, is a nuclear-armed Iran,” McCain said. “The regime must understand that they cannot win a showdown with the world.” He supports tougher sanctions against Tehran, but critics note that implementing them would require Russia’s consent. McCain’s provocative anti-Russia stand, though, makes such a deal less than likely. And he rejects direct US-Iran talks.

      In the end, McCain seems almost reflexively to favor the use of America’s armed might. “He would employ military force to the exclusion of other options,” says Larry Korb, a former Reagan Administration defense official. Scion of admirals (his father and grandfather), a combat pilot in Vietnam who continued to believe long after that war that it might have been won if the US military had been allowed free rein, McCain presents the image of a warrior itching for battle. He is the candidate of those Americans whose chief goal is an endless war against radical Islam and who’d like nothing more than for the Arizona senator to clamber figuratively into the cockpit once more. Like his former aide Marshall Wittman, currently a top aide to Senator Lieberman, McCain sees Theodore Roosevelt, the Bull Moose interventionist President of the early twentieth century, as his role model. And that attracts neoconservatives.

      “I’m an old-fashioned, Scoop Jackson–I guess you’d now say Joe Lieberman–Democrat, and he’s a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and they’re pretty close in their views, so substantively there’s a lot of overlap between us,” says James Woolsey, a former CIA director who’s endorsed McCain and has campaigned with him this year. “I think John’s style is very TR-like. It’s very much about speaking softly but carrying a big stick.”

      We’re still waiting for the “speaking softly” part. “There’s going to be other wars,” McCain warns. “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars.”

      Mar 31, 2008 at 11:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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