Presidential candidate John McCain, who once sang in jest about bombing Iran, on Tuesday reacted to a report of rising U.S. cigarette exports to the country by saying it may be “a way of killing ‘em.”
McCain, known for acerbic comments and for sometimes firing verbally from the hip, was responding to a report that U.S. exports to Iran rose tenfold during President George W. Bush’s term in office despite hostility between the two states. A rise in cigarette sales was a big part of that, according to an Associated Press analysis of seven years of U.S. trade figures.
“Maybe that’s a way of killing ‘em,” McCain said to reporters during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh. “I meant that as a joke, as a person who hasn’t had a cigarette in 28 years, 29 years,” he added, laughing.
I am not going to join in on the McCain bashing being done on this off-the-cuff remark that Joyner highlights in his post (a charity that right-wing bloggers would not afford the Democrats, I might note, as I observe today’s manufactured controversy over Obama’s foreign language remarks). I will observe that had a left-leaning leader of a European nation quipped that “Europe is going to export as much booze as we can to the United States so they can hopefully drink themselves to death,” the freakout in certain quarters of the blogosphere would measure on the Richter scale. Putting aside all that, I will say that I simply do not understand the mentality currently at work.
I understand that the leadership of Iran has said and (most likely has done) any number of odious things, and I understand that certain people who have an Israel first policy are going to have particular issues with Iran. But what I don’t understand is the apparent personal animus towards all thing Iran that the McCain quip seems to betray. I have no beef with Iranians, and I thought that was the right-wing position- our agitation was towards the leadership, and if I am remembering correctly, all the rhetoric from Pipes and company was that we needed to aid the Iranian people and their pro-Democracy forces. Maybe that was then, this is now, and the propagandists now need to paint Iran as a monolithic evil, and the rhetoric has changed. It sure feels like over the past few months and years we are experiencing a hardening of positions against all things Iranian.
It doesn’t make much sense to me. Insomuch that Iran does things that are threatening, and even assuming they have fomented much of the violence in Iraq, hurting the occupation forces, I don’t think this is a result of animus towards the United States on the part of the Iranian people, but machinations from the leadership that should have been expected given a large and overtly hostile nation had now projected a bulk of their military power right smack dab on their border. In fact, I have frequently seen reports stating just the opposite- wherever you go, people LOVE Americans (or at least they used to when the dollar bought you more than a bottle of water), but often times very much disliked American policy and the leadership in government.
Additionally, this sort of attitude doesn’t seem to be much of a winner in regards to long-term global policy. One would think the rising gas prices would clue some people in that there are a helluva lot of nations out there entering into a serious industrial era, and we are, from a population, and pretty soon probably from a military and manufacturing perspective, horribly outnumbered on the global stage. Not only does blanket belligerence towards other nations seem to be simplistic and unhelpful, it seems downright dangerous. I am not saying we are no longer a superpower, but I think the forecast is clear- we aren’t the only tough guy on the block anymore, and it might be wise to recognize that.
This is kind of rambling, but I just don’t get the current mindset, in which it seems like we really are carving out large parts of the world and making them “the enemy.” Certainly there are legitimate threats and certainly there are places where they do hate Americans, but I just don’t think it is the norm and don’t see the purpose in the kind of animus McCain displayed in his offhand remark.
Even if it was just a joke. It sucked.