McCain’s foreign policy advisor

MCCAIN’S FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR…. John McCain chatted with NPR this morning, and during the interview, the senator made a very odd remark about where he’s turned for foreign policy advice.

NPR: Given what you’ve said, senator, is there an occasion where you could imagine turning to Gov. Palin for advice in a foreign policy crisis?

McCain: I’ve turned to her advice many times in the past. I can’t imagine turning to Senator Obama or Senator Biden because they’ve been wrong. They were wrong about Iraq, wrong about Russia.

Obviously, this is silly. But more importantly, I don’t think McCain appreciates how much this undermines his own campaign’s message. For a year and a half, McCain, his aides, and his surrogates have insisted that McCain is an unrivaled expert when it comes to foreign policy and national security. It’s a bogus claim — McCain has been strikingly confused on international affairs throughout his campaign — but it’s been the principal selling point of McCain’s candidacy from the outset.

Talking to NPR, however, McCain tried out an entirely new line — he, the expert, turns to his novice running mate, who has no foreign policy experience at all, for advice. In fact, he’s already done so “many times.”

The campaign argument has been that voters can support the Republican ticket, knowing that McCain will be calling the shots, especially in his area of expertise. Indeed, a month ago, one of McCain’s top advisors announced, “[Palin is] going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long.”

But this morning, McCain argued the exact opposite, insisting he’s turned to her for advice. This, despite the fact that, according to Palin, her most notable foreign policy experience is living in a state near other countries.

What is McCain thinking?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.