Bush-bama vs. McCain

A few days ago (I’m catching up!), Matt Yglesias wrote a quick post on the divergence between Bush and McCain on foreign policy.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, hasn’t Matt forcefully argued that it is sound and appropriate to argue that a vote for McCain is a vote for a third term for Bush?” Well yes, kind of, but Matt has also argued that McCain is a consistent militarist, despite the fact that McCain has had a wide range of opinions on foreign policy issues, including post-invasion Iraq, and that we have good reason to believe that McCain adjusts his views in response to reality. He is, you might say, a reality-based conservative. Bush, in his kinder, gentler foreign policy guise, has not made a break with his past — he is continuing in his non-reality-based vein. And it so happens that he is thus in broad agreement with the Obama campaign as to how to approach Iran and other foreign policy crises. Judging by his Berlin speech, Obama thinks that joining forces with Europe to condemn Iran and jaw-jaw Iran out of acquiring nuclear weapons is a new idea. It’s not, as it happens. It is, very understandably, the same approach Condolleezza Rice has pursued, formally and informally, for some time now.

Just as McCain disagreed with Bush on Iraq strategy before the belated embrace of open-source counterinsurgency, he stubbornly disagrees with the Bush-Obama strategy. Why? Because it has yielded pretty abysmal results so far. Assuming that changes, I suspect McCain will reassess.

All this is to say that Matt has a gift for framing devices — he is a truly impressive guy and a total mensch, and the Center for American Progress, and the left more broadly, is very lucky to have him.

Matt also pointed me to this terrific diavlog between Francis Fukuyama and Robert Kagan. One of my close friends, an editor at Foreign Affairs, once told me that Francis Fukuyama reminded him of me, which I found very flattering — people usually tell me that some miscellaneous rodeo clown or movie monster reminded them of me — so I was inclined to like him. Actually, Fukuyama also wrote me back once when I sent him a mildly critical letter at the age of 16. (I had a lot of time on my hands.) I agreed strongly with Fukuyama on China, and with Kagan on the broader questions surrounding relative decline: how constrained are we, etc. Worth watching! Of course, a friend of mine mocked me mercilessly for watching it. I was like, “Wait, I’ll go, but I need to watch this, um, Bloggingheads episode.” I have no shame. You’re damn right I want to watch it!