Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has mastered the art of criticizing those who’ve followed his advice. As Rachel noted on the show in June, it was McCain who insisted that President Obama should respond to Russian aggression by excluding Putin from a G-8 meeting, then following that up with economic sanctions.
When Obama did exactly what, McCain complained that excluding Putin from a G-8 meeting, then following that up with economic sanctions, was a feckless and ineffective foreign policy towards Russia.
Of course, the Arizona Republican isn’t the only one who knows how to play this game. Simon Maloy noted that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is outraged by the White House’s ISIS strategy, which follows the course recommended by Marco Rubio.
On Monday, Rubio went on Fox News and tore into the administration’s anti-ISIS strategy. “This is what happens when your decisions on foreign policy are driven by politics,” Rubio said. “You cannot defeat an army on the ground simply from the air. And to put all your eggs in the basket of hoping that local ground forces will be able to do the job was a deeply flawed strategy from the beginning.”
And on the surface, that’s not an unreasonable argument – plenty of observers on the left and right believe the administration’s strategy has been “flawed … from the beginning.”
But as the political fight over U.S. policy towards ISIS began in earnest, the Florida Republican wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post laying out his recommendations for addressing the threat posed by Islamic State militants:
“To confront the Islamic State terrorists, we need a sustained air campaign targeting their leadership, sources of income and supply routes, wherever they exist. We must increase our efforts to equip and capacitate non-jihadists in Syria to fight the terrorist group. And we must arm and support forces in Iraq confronting it, including responsible Iraqi partners and the Kurds. In addition, we must persuade nations in the region threatened by the Islamic State to participate in real efforts to defeat it.”
Hmm. Sustained air campaign, equip and support potential allies, recruit coalition partners – Rubio’s recommendations sound an awful lot like Obama’s policy. Indeed, looking at this paragraph again more than a month later, Rubio could practically accuse the president of ripping him off.
If the senator wants to complain about the lack of progress in Iraq and Syria, he’s on safe ground. In fact, he can get in line. But for Rubio to say Obama embraced “a deeply flawed strategy from the beginning,” when Obama’s strategy from the beginning was the same as Rubio’s strategy, is hard to take seriously.
Regrettably, this isn’t the Florida Republican’s only recent contradiction on the subject. In mid-September, Rubio told NPR he’s confident that fully defeating ISIS is “a realistic goal,” only to add moments later that it’s “just reality” to acknowledge a complete ISIS defeat may not be possible.
Maloy added yesterday, “The only constant feature of Rubio’s foreign policy thinking is its utter lack of consistency.”