As I predicted, the debate last night in Nashville was almost utterly devoid of constructive engagement. The rules agreed upon months ago by the candidates precluded any interaction or follow-ups, so both candidates were able to deliver de facto stump speeches.
In Barack Obama’s favor, his stump speech actually contains substance and detail on his positions and policies. John McCain, however, is a walking platitude machine telling us Americans how great we all are, in between telling us how frightening Obama is.
There was, however, one answer that McCain gave that I think deserves some wider recognition. In a response to a question about whether the U.S. should pursue terrorists into Pakistani territory, McCain offered this history lesson:
“Now, let me just go back with you very briefly. We drove the Russians out with – the Afghan freedom fighters drove the Russians out of Afghanistan, and then we made a most serious mistake. We washed our hands of Afghanistan. The Taliban came back in, Al Qaeda, we then had the situation that required us to conduct the Afghan war.”
The folks McCain glorifies as “Afghan freedom fighters” are better known as the Mujahideen, an insurgent force that included Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. And if it wasn’t bad enough that McCain publicly planted this big wet kiss on Bin Laden, he went on to dismissively refer to Bin Laden’s attack on America as “the situation” that precipitated war with Afghanistan.
So 9/11 was merely a situation, and Bin Laden deserves our thanks for driving the Russians from Afghanistan. These remarks underscore the cynical politicization of horrific events by the McCain campaign. They appear to be ready to use whatever assault, no matter how scandalous or repulsive, in order to benefit their naked ambitions. And when McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, are traveling the country alleging that Obama is “pallin’ around with terrorists,” I thought it should be noted that McCain took the time to send his regards to Bin Laden & Co. during a presidential debate on national TV.