As if the Iraq war and the fight against terrorism wasn't enough, Russia has decided that it's time to inject itself into the American presidential election and resurrect the Cold War, thus providing Sen. John McCain and the Republican Party even more fodder to bolster their claim to the national-security throne. Listening to right-wing radio yesterday you'd think it was 1987 and Ronald Reagan was urging Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this (Berlin) wall."
But it's 2008, not 1987, and Russia's on the warpath with its invasion of the Republic of Georgia, the western-oriented Democracy to its South which gained its independence in 1991 after the break-up of the former Soviet Union. So now we have the new Red Scare, except this one's coated in black. "Russia will go on a rampage if Barack Obama's elected president," said Sirius Radio's Andrew Wilkow. Fox's Sean Hannity said of the Democratic nominee's reaction to the invasion, "He blew his 3am moment...he looked like a deer in the headlights." Rush Limbaugh said, "Obama I don't think knows where Georgia is on the map. 'Obama, where's Georgia?' He'd look for Atlanta and he'd say, 'It's right there, it's where Dr. King's church is."
What we have here is a case of Conservatives Gone Wild. And we can thank Russian President Vladamir Putin for it all. Remember him? President Bush's BFF? The guy Bush gushed over like a love-stricken schoolgirl in June 2001: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue....I was able to get a sense of his soul." Seven years later and can you say, Divorce Court? Though I never thought this possible, Putin's big Fuck You to the West last week makes Bush look like an even bigger ass than ever. Can it get any worse for this guy? And McCain's been quick to pounce, mocking Bush by saying of Putin, "I looked into his eyes and saw K.G.B." Oh no he di-int! Did he actually say KGB? What could possibly get McCain, who's practically old enough to have witnessed the 1917 Russian Revolution firsthand, more politically excited than talk of the KGB? It's a Republican war-monger's wet dream, for Pete's sake.
To be sure, as the battle in Georgia intensifies, McCain and Co. will relentlessly exploit this crisis in an effort to weaken Obama's chances in November. And I'm afraid it make have some impact. The major area where McCain polls far greater than Obama is with national security; that he's the more capable commander-in-chief, able to better handle both the war in Iraq and the threat from terrorists here at home. Russia's march into Georgia could not have come at a worse time politically for Obama and the Democrats. Obama needs to get off the ropes in this area and aggressively go after McCain, defining him as a reckless war-monger who was wrong on Iraq and is part of the Bushevik Empire that was wrong on Putin and Russia.