Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time For The Grown Ups To Be in Charge

Sen. McCain, we're told by a lot of people in the media, is a serious politician and thinker of foreign policy. So goes the mythology, he has been battle-tested, knows when war is necessary and when it is avoidable, and thus offers this country a steady mind in the face of crisis. He is, in short, an adult with adult perspectives on adult problems, and we can know we're safe under his watch.

And maybe this is true. I know of adults who are scared to let their kids play in the front yard, after hearing of a kidnapping two states to the west of them. I remember a church trip to Kings Island being canceled on me, due to the worries of adults, because another church had a catastrophic bus accident a couple of weeks earlier. Adults are afraid of their children seeing a woman's nipple on television, for fear of the questions it brings up about the human body. What about the children, adults squeal! Will somebody think about the children?!

Similarly, McCain manages to see every international problem as a world-historical threat that can only be faced with brave rhetorical bluster and mature displays of reactionary power. Of Hussein's occupation of Kuwait in 1990, McCain declared "the peace and security of the world for future generations [demand] that the world community act decisively to end the Gulf Crisis now." Four years later he described North Korea's nuclear weapons program as "the most dangerous and immediate expression" of "the greatest challenge to U.S. security and world stability today," warning that "there can be no serious doubt that our vital national interests are imperiled." Five years later, another crisis: "America's most important values—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—are under vicious assault by the Milosevic regime." What was needed: "an immediate and manifold increase in the violence against Serbia proper and Serbian forces in Kosovo," including mobilization of "infantry and armored divisions for a possible ground war." And, of course, who can forget the War on Terror: "the transcendent issue of our time" -- "a transcendent struggle between good and evil. Everything we stand for and believe in is at stake here." And more recently, with the situation in Georgia, Russia is exhibiting its desire to "restore the old Russian Empire."

And so goes the storyline, complete with its very serious adult themes, that is McCain's grave vision of international relations. Hyperbole is the name of the game. It's the stuff of grown-ups and maturity.

Obviously, I'm just too young to understand.