Since the violence broke out last week between Russian and Georgian military forces, pundits and media figures have been trying to determine how the conflict will affect the U.S. presidential election. Many in the media, however, have blindly asserted — seemingly without examining any evidence — that the war in Georgia helps Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Some recent examples:
— Jill Zuckman, Chicago Tribune: “It’s just sort of a perfect thing for him.”
— Jeff Birnbaum, Washington Post: “This is McCain’s advantage here, advantage McCain. This is right in his sweet spot in foreign policy national security.”
— Mark Halperin, Time Magazine: “I think McCain benefits…this is good politically for John McCain”
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Halperin hinted at why many in the media think the Georgia-Russia conflict is a winner for McCain, becuase it “allows him to talk tough on foreign policy.”
But as Josh Marshall notes, “watching John McCain speak about the Georgian crisis […] should deeply worry anyone interested in a sane US foreign policy,” suggesting that a President McCain would have pushed the U.S. closer to war during this particular crisis: “People need to wake up and get a look of the preview he’s giving us of a McCain presidency.” Some reasons to be worried:
— League of Democracies: McCain has cited Russian “behavior” as justification to create a “League of Democracies” — a radical plan with a “hidden agenda” to “kill the United Nations” and one that has been “greeted with alarm by some Republican supporters and wariness by important U.S. allies.”
— Trusted Broker: The fact that McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, has spent a number of years lobbying on behalf of Georgia which raises some questions about whether McCain would serve as an honest broker in the Russia-Georgia conflict.
So it seems that for the media, McCain’s “tough talk” and thus predisposition for war is a political benefit.