Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is on to John McCain’s games.
Despite the fact that Saakashvili has quite a bit on his mind this week, the leader of the former Soviet state that has been invaded by Russian forces was able to cut through the Republican presidential candidate’s rhetoric and get to the heart of the matter: While McCain will say just about anything to get a headline, the Arizona senator is not exactly known for following through — or even for remembering what he has said.
It is no secret in Washington that McCain has throughout his career in the House and Senate been willing to pontificate — often at great length — on topics with which he is entirely unfamiliar. Aides recount stories of times when the senator has agreed to do interviews without even asking what they were about.
McCain’s accessibility and charm get him passes from reporters and fellow senators, who rarely hold him to account.
But Saakashvili is taking McCain’s statements rather more seriously than Americans do.
McCain told a crowd in Pennsylvania Tuesday that he had spoken with the embattled Georgian, telling the president: “Today, we are all Georgians.”
Saakashvili’s response: “Yesterday, I heard Sen. McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now.’ Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.”
The deed Saakashvili would prefer is a move by the United States to take the lead in installing an international peacekeeping force.
“We should realize what is at stake here for Americans,” Saakashvili told CNN. “America is losing the whole region.”
Of course, if McCain were to propose such a move, he would open a whole new debate about reopening the Cold War — or perhaps something a bit hotter — and it is unlikely that American voters, already wary about our foreign entanglements, would be very enthused about a perilous mission in The Caucasus.
So Saakashvili should probably be satisfied with the words he has gotten from John McCain.
That may by unsettling. But Saakashvili can comfort himself with the recognition that, of late, this is all McCain has been giving Americans.