Goldfarb and McCain
Yesterday’s announcement that Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb is taking a leave of absence “to serve as deputy communications director of the McCain campaign” has been greeted with surprising interest from bloggers across the political spectrum. Just sampling those in my RSS reader:
- Radley Balko points out that “Goldfarb has written (falsely, by any reasonable reading of the Constitution, Federalist Papers, or diaries of the Constitutional Convention) that the founders believed the president should have “near dictatorial” powers when it comes to war and foreign policy.”
- Matt Yglesias: “Some folks take comfort in the fact that up until 1998-99 or so McCain had reasonably reasonable views about foreign policy, but he’s been way out in crazy-land for years now and all indications are that his administration will be staffed by neocons too fanatical or dim-witted to have served in the Bush administration and been discredited.”
- Andrew Sullivan: “Uh-oh.” (I’d say “Read the whole thing” but, alas, you just did.)
- Glenn Greenwald cites some Goldfarb posts he disagrees with and adds, “Does one even need to point out that there are few things more incompatible with one another than “straight talk” and The Weekly Standard?”
- Steve Benen mentions without comment in a “Campaign Roundup.”
- Ditto Laura Rosen.
- John Schwenkler, new at PoMoCo, has a long rant about how this proves McCain=Bush and closes, “[The thought that] Mr. Goldfarb might resurface in the more appropriately water-carrying role of Press Secretary to a (shudder) President McCain ought to be enough to turn one’s vote elsewhere.”
I’m afraid I don’t get it. I’m only vaguely familiar with Goldfarb’s work as a blogger but he’s apparently been in the writing business for quite some time, including a stint at Time.com more than a decade ago. One presumes he’s qualified to write press releases and carry out other duties associated with the job which, as described by Bill Kristol in the announcement post, is pretty low-vis: “He’ll be focusing on their online activities.”
Kristol joked (one presumes he wasn’t serious) about Goldfarb being National Security Advisor to a President McCain but Schwenkler’s right: something in the communications shop is more likely. But so what? Ronald Reagan employed Pat Buchanan as his Communications Director, after all.
George Allen hired Jon Henke in a similar capacity, as did Mitch McConnell. I don’t recall either of them making a sudden shift to neo-libertarianism. That’s just not the nature of these gigs.
Presidents and presidential candidates hire all manner of people to serve in all manner of roles. They’re not interchangeable. Goldfarb is supremely unqualified to serve in a foreign policy role, let alone as Attorney General. His opinions on the scope of presidential power are therefore irrelevant.
McCain’s foreign policy is too neo-con and “national greatness” for my tastes. Bill Kristol has been one of his biggest boosters for years, which would seem to trump the Goldfarb association in terms of meaning. But we know where he stands based on his decades in office and his two runs for the presidency.
UPDATE: For more discussion, see “McCain’s Weekly Standard Posse.”