Georgian Crisis Shows McCain is Ready to Lead; and Obama is not!
Remember the brouhaha during the Democratic Primaries, when Senator Hillary Clinton suggested that either she or Senator John McCain were ready to take that 3:00 a.m. crisis phone call to the White House, but Senator Barack Obama had not proven himself.
Well, figuratively, it is 3:00 in the morning and the crisis phone is ringing. Today, President Bush spoke forcefully in defense of the democratically elected government of Georgia, and Georgia's territorial integrity. Senator McCain reacted even earlier. On the day of the Russian invasion, he called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia. On August 11, Senator McCain said that the United States should seek U.N. Security Council condemnation of Russian aggression against Georgia. (Of course Senator McCain recognizes that Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, would veto any resolution, but the diplomatic pressure would be enormous.) Senator McCain's remarks have repeatedly demonstrated that he is familiar with Georgia and with the roots and implications of the Georgian-Russian conflict, and that he has a clear-cut vision of where America's interests lie in this crisis--in the defense of a fledgling democracy against the efforts of Vladimir Putin to place Georgia once again under the paw of the Russian bear.
On the Democratic side, Senator Clinton, of course, is out of contention and in the background. Yet, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Obama, has scarecely been more vocal or public during the crisis than has Senator Clinton, apparently viewing the fate of Georgia as an unfortunate interruption of his well-earned Hawaiian vacation. As Jonah Goldberg pointed out in a column in the Los Angeles Times, Obama's performance has not served his campaign well. He seems helpless without a script. Goldberg writes:
[The crisis] is not a new challenge but a very old one. Perhaps this is not a time for a novice spouting grand rhetoric about a new page in history, but for someone who's actually read the pages of some old, but still relevant, books. Perhaps this is not the time for playacting.
In another context, prior to the Russian invasion of Georgia, Natan Sharansky made a very similar observation, from the perspective of Israel, another small democracy that requires U.S. protection. In an interview with Shalom TV, an American cable television network, Sharansky said:
In the case of McCain, we know exactly where his policy is. I know, personally, McCain for 20 years. He is a person of principle, and he is also a person who has absolutely a great record of supporting Israel. Getting to Obama, there is no record. Nobody can know for sure what will be. It can happen to be good. It can happen to be very bad. It's a risk.
As the late Bernie Mac might have said, "America, you decide."