Senator John McCain is in a tight primary election race in his home state. He could lose the GOP nomination for his own Senate Seat to challenger J.D. Hayworth. Thus, he seeks opportunities to impress home state Conservatives, folks he doesn’t really respect.
His latest maneuver was to attack President Obama for this remark, made during his speech at the close of Wednesday’s nuclear summit, an apparent waste of time that produced nothing of significance:
It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce [foreign] conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them…And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.
McCain, joined a herd of commentators stampeding to the microphones to make headlines by blasting Obama, claiming he wished America was not the dominant superpower. McCain said the President’s remark was:
…a direct contradiction to everything America believes in…That’s one of the more incredible statements I’ve ever heard a president of the United States make in modern times. We are the dominant superpower, and we’re the greatest force for good in the history of this country, and I thank God every day that we are a dominant superpower.
Our view is that this reaction to Obama’s statement says more about McCain’s desperation to impress conservative voters than about Obama’s view of superpower status.
Certainly the quote above is ambiguous and should have been reconstructed before his speech was delivered. But, had a political figure Conservatives respect said exactly the same thing McCain and the herd of commentators would have interpreted it not as a desire to be less than the dominant superpower, but a reminder to war-weary Americans of real world realities that America must, reluctantly, confront.
Virtually all Americans would be delighted if it were not ever necessary for us to become involved in any foreign conflict. But most recognize that, as Obama said, it is sometimes in our national interest to intervene.
Now it may be true that Obama laments America’s superpower status. But his actions as Commander in Chief, while somewhat uncertain and inept, do not really support that conclusion.
Politics in America is largely an effort to persuade voters who don’t have the time or inclination to pay much attention. To that end there is plenty to criticize in Obama’s clearly expressed ideas and written policies. When we pounce on one imprecise segment of one speech, out of the hundreds of speeches Obama has made, we appear silly, frivolous and desperate to “make points.”