John McCain rewrites his epitaph

As John McCain launched his first run for the White House in 1999, he was forced to confront the Keating Five scandal that nearly ended his political career. “The fact is, it was the wrong thing to do,” McCain acknowledged, “and it will be on my tombstone and deservedly so.”

As it turns out, John McCain didn’t just speak too soon; he’s going to need a much larger tombstone. After all, in 2008 McCain invented Sarah Palin, an unqualified, petty partisan whose elevation to vice president would have jeopardized the country he claimed to “put first.” But while McCain etched that two word addition to his epitaph, in 2010 the Supreme Court in Citizens United erased another, gutting the campaign finance reforms that had been his penance for his S&L sins. Now, as the same man who was wrong about almost every national security issue of the past decade rages at President Obama over Libya, Iraq and Iran, the debasement of John McCain is complete.

To be sure, McCain’s devolution from “the Maverick” to a bitter, sore loser was well underway long before his raving this week about the Benghazi tragedy that claimed the lives of four Americans. (Appealing to the GOP’s tea party base in April 2010, McCain announced that “I never considered myself a maverick” and declared, “I’m madder than I’ve ever been.”)  Before he threatened to block a potential nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state, before he slandered her as “not very bright,” before he declared “no one died during Watergate” and before even his allies rejected his call for a Senate select committee to probe the Benghazi attacks, John McCain blasted President Obama and the top military brass for the draw-down in Iraq.

Last November, McCain attacked Joint Chiefs chairman nominee General Martin Dempsey for having opposed the 2007 Iraq surge. As he put it during the confirmation hearings, “We’re all responsible for the judgments that we make and obviously that affects the credibility of the judgments that we make now on Iraq.” McCain also took to the Senate floor to decry Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces:

“I believe that history will judge this president’s leadership with scorn and disdain, with the scorn and disdain that it deserves.”

Sadly for Obama’s vanquished foe, history’s judgment on John McCain is already in. As a look back at his calamitous forecasts, disastrous predictions and jaw-dropping assessments on Iraq shows, it is McCain who should receive the scorn and disdain he deserves.

Consider McCain’s statements during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in January 2002, McCain declared, “Next up, Baghdad!” That followed by three months McCain’s baseless claim that the anthrax attacks that fall could have been the work of Saddam Hussein:

“I think we’re doing fine [in Afghanistan]…I think we’ll do fine. The second phase – if I could just make one, very quickly – the second phase is Iraq. There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may – and I emphasize may – have come from Iraq.”

Or may not have come from Iraq. In any event, McCain insisted, the United States would make short work of Saddam’s forces. As the Bush administration was making its case for war by warning of “the smoking gun that could come on the form of a mushroom cloud,” McCain in the September 2002 assured Americans that “I am very certain that this military engagement will not be very difficult” because “I cannot believe that there is an Iraqi soldier who is going to be willing to die for Saddam Hussein.” (As for Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress leader who joined President Bush for the 2003 State of the Union Address only to later be linked to Iran, McCain declared, “He’s a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart.”) It’s no wonder McCain told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on March 12, 2003, that American forces would “absolutely, absolutely” be greeted as liberators, a claim he repeated two weeks later:

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we will prevail and there’s no doubt in my mind, once these people are gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators.”

As it turned out, not so much. The victory John McCain predicted in January 2003 would be “rapid, within about three weeks” did not come to pass.

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Mitt Romney’s son travels to Moscow seeking Russian investors for his real estate business

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters at the InPro Corporation in Muskego, Wisconsin, March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

Yep, he’s a phony

Remember when Mitt Romney said Russia was our “number one geopolitical foe”? Well:

Matt Romney, a son of the Republican presidential nominee, traveled to Moscow this week seeking Russian investors for his California-based real estate firm just days before his father is to wrap up a campaign in which he has vowed to take a tougher stance with the Kremlin.

I guess that means Mitt Romney thinks his son hates America. Either that, or everything he says is just completely full of malarkey.

Mitt Romney’s foreign policy follies

As the presidential candidates prepare for their third and final debate on Monday, recent polling suggests Mitt Romney has cut into President Barack Obama’s sizable lead on foreign policy issues. But if his demagoguery on China (where he apparently still profits from his portfolio of Bain investments) and Libya (where he accused the president of “empathizing” with the attackers) has fueled that uptick, Romney’s laughably long list of foreign policy flip-fops, flubs and follies may come back to bite him. As it turns out, the man who got a “Four Pinocchio” rating for his repeated claims that Obama apologizes for America has a lot to apologize for.

Romney Opposed U.S. Strikes Against Bin Laden in Pakistan. In December, Romney brushed off Chuck Todd’s suggestion that Obama deserved credit for ordering the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden:

“I think in a setting like this one where Osama bin Laden was identified to be hiding in Pakistan, that it was entirely appropriate for this president to move in and to take him out,” Romney replied, later adding that “In a similar circumstance, I think other presidents and other candidates, like myself, would do exactly the same thing.”

As it turns out, not so much. Throughout 2007 and 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama declared, “we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.” Like President Bush and John McCain, Romney opposed unilateral American action to kill the Al Qaeda chieftain and his henchmen:

“I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours… I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort…”There is a war being waged by terrorists of different types and nature across the world,” Romney said. “We want, as a civilized world, to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme with them.”

Of course, Romney’s confusion about whether or not to respect Pakistani sovereignty may have something to do with his past reversals about whether or not killing Osama Bin Laden even mattered. After insisting in late April 2007 that “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,” Romney, under fire from the right, reversed course just three days later and declared of Bin Laden, “He’s going to pay, and he will die.” (That also explains his ridiculous comment five years ago that “I want to double Guantanamo,” and his plans now to revive the Bush administration’s regime of detainee torture.)

Romney’s comical past on Afghanistan and lack of policy specifics on its present largely explain why the GOP nominee was so noticeably silent on the topic at the Republican National Convention.

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