Since the crisis in Georgia began, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has used aggressive rhetoric against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, arguing that the former president wants “to restore the old Russian Empire.” His campaign claims that he’s been “prescient” on Russia and Putin. But, as Jason Zengerle points out today, McCain actually praised President Bush in 2001 when he said he could trust Putin because he “looked the man in the eye” and got “a sense of his soul.” Asked by Chris Matthews how Bush did in his Russia trip, McCain replied, “I give him an A. I’d give him an A”:
MATTHEWS: Talk about instant background checks. He instantly decides this guy was trustworthy.
Sen. McCAIN: The president did a good job in his European trip. I think that most Americans appreciate the job he did, and they’re slightly resentful at the kind of condescension that–that d–that Europeans seem to have shown towards Ronald Reagan as–and–as well as… […]
MATTHEWS: On a four-point system, how did the president do in Russia, on his trip to the re–meet Putin in Slovenia?
Sen. McCAIN: On Russia, I d–I give him very high marks.
Sen. McCAIN: I–I give him an A. I’d give him an A.