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Fear of John McCain

Harold Meyerson is afraid of John McCain:

McCain on the Red Phone: It is 3 a.m., and the stillness of the White House night is shattered by the ringing of the red phone. President John McCain, rousing himself from a deep sleep, turns on the light and picks up the receiver. A U.S. embassy in a Middle Eastern country, he is told, has been blown up, and al-Qaeda is taking credit. McCain takes a deep breath. "Character counts, my friend," he says. "Bomb Iran. Bomb, bomb Iran."

There is a rustling of blankets, and, brushing aside Cindy McCain, a concerned Joe Lieberman rises from the bed. "Not Iran, Mr. President," he says. "They hate al-Qaeda."

"That's right," the president says. "I remember now." He sighs with relief. "Good thing you're here every night, Joe."

But suppose, dear reader, that John McCain becomes president and Joe Lieberman doesn't bunk with the McCains on a nightly basis. How easily should the rest of us sleep?...

[T]he al-Qaeda-Iran alliance wasn't just a passing thought.... Whether it was a simple mistake, a neoconservative delusion or a habit of mind that lumps together all of America's enemies (either sincerely or calculatedly, to build public support for military action), we cannot say. What we can say is that the idea of any or all of these options is profoundly disquieting. The very thought of a president who deliberately conflates or erroneously confuses our adversaries with each other is appalling.... We're mired in a war that has its roots in George W. Bush's both imagining and fabricating an alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Do we really want to perpetuate these habits of mind in the next administration?...

[The] prevailing [journalistic] narrative of McCain's national security expertise... [lacks] assessment of the nature of his beliefs... "rogue state rollback"... preventive war... permanent war... missile defense... military unilateralism.... If you liked Bush's foreign and military policy, you'll love McCain's.

But McCain's thinking... remains an undiscovered country to his countrymen.... On economic matters, that may be because he doesn't seem to have devoted much time or energy to thinking about the economy.... Hard to say what's more dangerous -- McCain's approach to the economy or McCain's approach to the world. The thought of him answering the red phone at 3 a.m. fills me with foreboding. Hell, I don't want him answering the red phone at 3 p.m.

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