John McCain’s latest big foreign policy speech was, bizarrely, reported as him positioning himself as more moderate than George W. Bush. Talking to rightwing radio, though, McCain is singing a different tune, emphasizing that “no one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.” He goes on to explain that “there are many national security issues that I have strongly supported the president and steadfastly so.”
In some respects, though, McCain has been a less-than-steadfast supporter of Bush. He, for example, spent most of 1999 and 2000 criticizing Bush for being unwilling to adopt a doctrine of rogue state rollback. Back in 2002 while Bush was unwilling to publicly argue for invading Iraq, McCain was doing it. And while Bush was full of talk about disarmament, McCain was clear from the start that he would settle only for regime change. McCain spent a lot of time criticizing Bush for not sending enough Americans over to Iraq to be killed, and has also been known to criticize Bush for insufficient saber-rattling directed at such countries as Iran, Syria, and Russia. So, really, it’s not fair to say that McCain is just like Bush — he’s been a much more consistent proponent of the worst policies associated with the Bush administration.