It's one thing to see Obama and McCain grow closer and closer together on Iraq. It's another to see them do the same on global human solidarity. This exchange is too good to quote in anything but full:
Matthew Yglesias writes:
Am I a Georgian?
Common sense indicates that, no, I am not a Georgian. But John McCain says “today we are all Georgians.” But does he mean it? Suppose Russia was bombing Atlanta and threatening to advance to Savannah. In solidarity with Georgia (the state) Americans from all fifty states would band together and fight the Russians off. Now I don’t think we should go to war with Russia. And I hope John McCain doesn’t think we should go to war with Russia. But insofar as he doesn’t mean that we should go to war with Russia on Georgia’s behalf, what’s the meaning of the claim that “we are all Georgians”?
Does he really not understand this? The point is that we can't physically defend Georgia from Russian agression, but we can make a symbolic stand of unity with a democratic, pro-Western state that has been attacked by an autocratic aggressor. Is Yglesias trying to argue that, since we don't have the capacity to intervene militarily, we can't make basic moral judgments?
No, Mr. Chait, he is trying to argue that we do not need to pronounce ridiculously empty and dangerously grandiose symbolic lies in order to make basic moral judgments. I can strongly oppose military aggression against innocent civilians, strongly condemn Saakashvili's utter recklessness and disregard for those civilians, and criticize Russia for its disproportionately calibrated invasion of Georgia proper all without reference to being a citizen of the world or a Cosmic Georgian or anything else nonsensical and wrong.
These rhetorical zeppelins explode into bits at first contact with reality, and they do affirmative harm to anyone trying to make a good case for regular ordinary prudence and a decent respect for the civilized distances between individuals and groups that make living our own lives, singly and together, possible. If you want to hear this without an ounce of snark (yet are equally disposed to criticize snarkless commentary as unbearably pious and self-congratulatory), then Yglesias is not your guy, but it's bald-faced obvious what he's saying as far as I'm concerned, and in my judgment that's because he's right.
If we can't cast our moral judgment on the side of innocent Georgian civilians without phonily transubstantiating ourselves in our fake imaginations into pretend innocent Georgian civilians, we have really lost our minds, and McCain's jingo reflexes are the least of our problems.