John Judis continues his efforts to convince me that John McCain may not be the psychotic neoconservative on national security issues that he appears to be, by noting that he has a long time proclivity for suggesting that someone like James Baker or Brent Scowcroft might make a good envoy to try to re-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Later, McCain qualifies that to say he “would appoint someone to go to the region who was well regarded: Scowcroft, Baker, Kissinger, George Mitchell, Tony Zinni, Bill Kristol, Randy Scheunemann.” Scowcroft, Baker, Kissinger, Mitchell, and Zinni would all be good choices. Scheunemann would be silly, and Kristol would be absurd. Judis remarks:
McCain clearly did acknowledge recommending Scowcroft and Baker as his negotiators. In grouping them subsequently with Bill Kristol (the editor of The Weekly Standard) and former campaign aide Randy Scheunemann–neither of whom have had significant diplomatic experience or enjoy high regard in Arab capitals–McCain appeared to be grasping desperately for a way to undermine the significance of his own statement. What really happened in Brussels will probably always be shrouded in doubt, but there is some reason to believe that McCain, faced with a foreign reporter, did temporarily let down his guard and reveal that, on U.S. policy toward Israel, he is closer to George H.W. Bush than to George W. Bush. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
That’s one interpretation. Another, of course, would be that McCain is seriously confused, doesn’t understand this issue at all, and is just thrashing around saying things that don’t make sense.