McCain on Obama: Inexperienced, But “I Didn’t Say He Wasn’t a Smart Politician”

Jun 1, 2008 10:40am

Another typically illuminating interview from The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, this one with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. HERE and HERE.

Lots of good stuff in there, but I particularly liked the conversation about Sen. Barack Obama’s stated willingness to meet unconditionally with dictators of rogue nations hostile to the U.S.

One excerpt:

MCCAIN: Senator Obama likes to refer to President Kennedy going to Vienna. Most historians see that as a serious mistake, which encouraged Khrushchev to build the Berlin Wall and to send missiles to Cuba. Another example is Richard Nixon going to China. I’ve forgotten how many visits Henry Kissinger made to China, and how every single word was dictated beforehand. More importantly, he went to China because China was then a counterweight to a greater threat, the Soviet Union. What is a greater threat in the Middle East than Iran today?

Senator Obama is totally lacking in experience, so therefore he makes judgments such as saying he would sit down with someone like Ahmadinejad without comprehending the impact of such a meeting. I know that his naivete and lack of experience is on display when he talks about sitting down opposite Hugo Chavez or Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad….

GOLDBERG: What is the difference between an American president negotiating with Ahmadinejad and Ehud Olmert negotiating with the Syrians?

MCCAIN: You don’t see him sitting down opposite Bashar, do you? (Bashar al-Assad is president of Syria.) I mean, that’s the point here. It was perfectly fine that Ryan Crocker spoke with the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad. The point is you don’t give legitimacy by lending prestige of a face-to-face meeting, with no preconditions.

GOLDBERG: But Obama has shifted off that position.

MCCAIN: Sure, and the next time he sees where he’s wrong, maybe he’ll shift again. The point is is that he doesn’t understand. Look, in the primary, he was unequivocal in his statements. And now he realizes that it’s not a smart thing to say. I didn’t say he wasn’t a smart politician.

Read the whole thing HERE and HERE

- jpt

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