Does McCain Really Know Much?

I think the obvious answer to those of us paying attention is a resounding no, but nevertheless Fred Kaplan explores McCain’s seeming lack of knowledge about foreign policy, and goes beyond the gaffes to some of his more really ridiculous ideas.

This is, I think, both an intellectual and electoral problem. Intellectually, obviously John McCain is pretty ignorant about a lot of facts relating to the world. It’s hard to imagine that someone with a passing familiarity with the rules of the G8 would propose kicking a member out knowing that all of the other members including the one to be tossed would have to agree to it. Or that someone with a good working knowledge of the facts on the ground in Iraq would try to credit the surge for begetting the Anbar Awakening, when the latter preceded the former. Saying something like that inexplicably, especially without correction, pretty clearly belies that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Politically, this is very bad stage craft. In short, if you have a candidate who doesn’t know much about a particular area, you want to tamp down expectations in that area. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a chemistry expert, because I don’t know that much about chemistry and sooner or later I’d be bound to say something really stupid about it. Similarly, propping up John McCain as a foreign policy wonk was bound to create problems, because John McCain is stunningly ignorant about a lot of basic things in the world, so it’s only a matter of time before he makes a really false statement of fact. And gaffes in your area of “expertise” are going to get blown up more.

But Jamie’s still carrying the neocon water.