Where’s John McCain?
The Arizona U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee got high marks for his quick as a flash response to the Georgia crisis this summer, leaving Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), his Democratic rival, in the dust.
It’s Obama’s turn, however, to leave McCain sputtering: the Obama campaign had a statement out within hours of possibly the most anti-Semitic speech ever delivered at the United Nations, and even got a dig in at McCain for not supporting Iran sanctions legislation in the Senate:
“I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran’s nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime. Once again, I call upon Senator McCain to join me in supporting a bipartisan bill to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by allowing states and private companies to divest from companies doing business in Iran.The security of our ally Israel is too important to play partisan politics, and it is deeply disappointing that Senator McCain and a few of his allies in Congress feel otherwise.”
Obama was referring to last week’s Senate tussle over sanctions legislation he helped sponsor. Democrats say they thing the GOP is blocking the legislation to deny Obama an election year score (and pro-Israel insiders agree); Republicans won’t fully explain why the legislation is stalled.
Nothing yet from the McCain campaign (although props to them for keeping their press release website absolutely up to date, still, bafflingly, a rarity in 2008.)
On the broader Iran issue, however, McCain has the jump on Obama: He’s come about as close as Obama’s primaries rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) did in threatening a military strike on Iran should it edge to close to the bomb. Here’s what he told CBS “60 Minutes” interviewer Scott Pelley this weekend:
Pelley: Would it be your policy in your administration to engage in preemptive war against a country that might pose a threat to the United States a country that hasn’t attacked us.
McCain: If it’s a provable direct threat. Suppose that the Iranians had nuclear weapons. And you had a whole lot of other information about Iranian intentions and you could make the case to the American people and to the world, I think it’s obvious that we would have to prevent what we’re absolutely certain is a direct threat to the lives of the American people.
Obama has said he will not take the military option off the table, but has not said so clearly he would strike if the Iranian threat is imminent.
Speaking of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speech, though: How WRONG did CNN’s Christiane Amanpour get it in her analysis? She paid more attention to what he supposedly omitted (past alleged references to wiping Israel off the map) and none at all to how closely he hewed to the vilest anti-Semitic stereotypes, more – I think (I might be proved wrong if someone digs up some Stalin-era U.N. speech) – than anyone else has on the General Assembly podium. Here’s Ahmadinejad:
“The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers, as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.
“It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premier nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance in a commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will.
“Friends and colleagues, all these are due to the manner in which the immoral and the powerful view the world, humankind, freedom, obeisance to God and justice. The thoughts and deeds of those who think they are superior to others and consider others as second class and inferior, who intend to remain out of the divine circle, to be the absolute slaves of their materialistic and selfish desires, who intend to expand their aggressive and domineering natures, constitute the roots of today’s problems in human societies. They are hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations.”
Ahmadinejad has, of course, long used anti-Semitic stereotypes to frame his attacks on Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians and with others in the Middle East; but this may be the first time that a world leader has used the U.N. podium to expand that toxic characterization to world control, a trope straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Look for more of this as the markets become more precarious.)
And Amanpour thinks Ahmadinejad was moderating his usual rhetoric??? She called this a typical “stump speech:”
“He did, as usual, start with the religious fundamentalist beliefs that he has, and he ended with that as well, a little of the end days philosophy that he has that the world is going to end and needs justice. But he also talked about the U.S. as occupiers in Iraq, as he has many time, and wants them out of Iraq.
“He talked about, as you said, the Zionist regime. But, this time, you didn’t hear him say wiped off the face of the map, as you have heard in the past. He simply talked about illegal occupation and oppression of Palestinians.
“It seems that he’s trying to actually pull back from some of that very fiery rhetoric that he’s directed towards Israel. Just this week in Iran, he actually said that Iran is friendly to the people of Israel and insisted that Iran has nothing against the Jewish people. He was backing one of his own ministers who had said that.”
Look, I’m as susceptible as anyone else in the Monday morning quarterbacking business to overparsing, but this was beyond belief. Wolf Blitzer, who must know better and who usually is quite good at gently tugging his interviewees back into the real world, said nothing.