Senator John McCain (R-AZ) publicly mourned his party’s implosion on Tuesday, shamed by the Republican primary’s descent into a low-brow insult carnival entirely devoid of any substantial policy debate. Having just attended a briefing by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, McCain said “I wish that every American could have heard your testimony today. Maybe we would have a presidential campaign that doesn’t focus on the size of people’s ears and whether they sweat or not.”
He was referring, of course, to the absurd exchange last week which saw Republican front-runner and rabble-rousing bigot Donald Trump mock rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his “large ears” and for sweating under pressure. Rubio promptly responded by implying that Trump had wet himself on the debate stage and made childish jokes about the size of Trump’s…hands. The policy discourse in the Republican Party, while never truly tethered to reality, at least once did include the discussions of ideas and proposals, impractical and delusional as they may have been. Those days are long gone. Trump is in such a commanding position because he was the quickest to realize that neither the voters nor the media want to hear policy discussions from him – they want him to tell them what they want to hear, “like it is”.
McCain’s growing sense despair and frustration in his party was intensified by the briefing that General Philip Breedlove just delievered, in which the general painted a bleak picture of the intensifying quagmire that is the Syrian Civil War and the growing threat posed an aggressive Russian Federation. The introduction of the Russian air force into the coalition of dictator Bashar-al Assad’s regime forces, Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has recently broke through the years-long stalemate with rebel forces, allowing Assad’s armies to enclose the rebel stronghold of Aleppo. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped behind enemy lines, vulnerable and exposed to Assad’s starvation tactics and Russia’s relentless and indiscriminate bombing campaign, which is notorious for specifically targeting schools, bakeries, markets, and hospitals. As Turkey and Saudi Arabia maneuver to support the rebels and put a check on Moscow and Tehran, the five-year conflict has the potential to escalate into a multinational war the likes of which the world hasn’t seen for decades.
It will require patience and nerves of steel to successfully guide America through these troubled waters. Nothing any of the Republican candidates have shown would give a reasonable person the impression that they are mature enough or anywhere close to qualified enough to take on the huge responsibility that the American presidency entails. McCain is often misguided and blinded by party orthodoxy, but he is absolutely correct in his assessment of the Republican contenders. It is terrifying to think about what kind of blunders these ignorant loudmouths would drag our nation into – or what damage they would do to the already shaky balance of stability in the world as we know it.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.