When McCain Breaks With Bush — Even When Bush Gets It Right

One of the more glaring and obvious flaws in John McCain’s pitch to voters is that he’s fundamentally running on a more-of-the-same platform when voters are desperate for a change. It appears that McCain has realized it’s to his advantage to break with the president more than he has been. Unfortunately, in this case, McCain is abandoning one of the few issues Bush got right (eventually).

McCain and (who else?) Joe Lieberman teamed up this morning for an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on U.S. policy towards Asia, and specifically presented McCain’s preferred approach towards North Korea.

American leadership is also needed on North Korea. We must use the leverage available from the U.N. Security Council resolution passed after Pyongyang’s 2006 nuclear test to ensure the full and complete declaration, disablement and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear facilities, in a verifiable manner, which we agreed to with the other members of the six-party talks.

This, in addition to McCain’s remarks in Denver this afternoon, led to headlines like this one: “McCain Breaks with Bush Over North Korea.” One might be tempted to think, “Great! Bush has been incoherent on North Korea, seemingly going years without any policy at all, and McCain has decided to ‘break’ with this. Maybe McCain’s learning after all.”

But this would have the situation backwards. The approach McCain described today is the same policy Bush embraced for the better part of six years. It failed miserably, undermined global security, and led to an expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Bush eventually reversed course, did a complete 180, and decided the Clinton administration’s policy was the right one after all.

McCain is “breaking” with Bush, inasmuch as he wants to take the U.S. back to the policy that was a dangerous and humiliating failure. In other words, he thinks Bush is too liberal on North Korea, and we need to go back to Bush’s first-term mistakes.

Remind me why any serious person would consider voting for this guy?


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