In a guest essay that appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle today, Dan Singal, professor of history at HWS, says “Sen. John McCain’s erratic and reckless decision-making makes him the wrong choice for commander in chief.” His piece was in response to one that appeared last month.
In the article, Singal agrees that McCain does have “extensive knowledge of the world,” but notes that his thinking is reflective of the morals of the Cold War era.
“In today’s incredibly complex world, we often need to form alliances with nations like Russia about whom we have serious concerns in order to achieve our larger strategic goals, such as fighting terrorism. McCain’s simplistic and moralistic attitude toward Iran, Pakistan and North Korea indicates that he has a weak grasp of this new challenge,” he writes.
Singal also expresses the opinion that Obama is the “ideal president to handle a major crisis.”
A member of the faculty since 1980, Singal earned his B. A. from Harvard magna cum laude and his M.A. and Ph.D., (with distinction) from Columbia. He is the author of “William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist” (Chapel Hill), and “The War Within: From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919-1945” (Chapel Hill).
The full essay as it appears in the Democrat and Chronicle follows.
Democrat and Chronicle
Pass up McCain’s old-hat approach to global affairs
Daniel Singal • Guest essayist • October 29, 2008
Contrary to the Speaking Out essay “McCain can steer U.S. ship through dangerous waters” (Sept. 26), Sen. John McCain’s erratic and reckless decision-making makes him the wrong choice for commander in chief.
McCain does have extensive knowledge of the world, but that thinking was shaped by the Cold War era, when it was standard practice to view international relations in terms of simple moral alternatives: the Communists vs. the Free World.
In today’s incredibly complex world, we often need to form alliances with nations like Russia about whom we have serious concerns in order to achieve our larger strategic goals, such as fighting terrorism. McCain’s simplistic and moralistic attitude toward Iran, Pakistan and North Korea indicates that he has a weak grasp of this new challenge.
Worse still is McCain’s temperament, which leads him to make decisions quickly and often impulsively. This was clear in the way he chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. He reportedly followed a shockingly short, casual process for selecting someone who would be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Another example was McCain’s announcement that he was suspending his campaign because he was supposedly needed in Washington to help resolve the financial crisis. In fact, his presence nearly derailed the delicate negotiations.
By contrast, Barack Obama has repeatedly shown himself to be a rock of stability. In nearly two years of running a presidential campaign, with all its shocks and stresses, Obama has shown remarkable unflappability. This is all the more striking because he has had so little experience in the national arena.
Any fair-minded person listening to Obama during the debates and interviews also would have to conclude that he has a firm hold on foreign affairs. Above all, he possesses a strategic vision for the United States that is very much in touch with today’s realities.
With his calm demeanor and his careful and thoughtful approach to solving problems, Obama represents the ideal president to handle a major crisis.
Singal is a history professor, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, Ontario County.