John Cole cuts through the superficial Politico coverage of the candidates’ responses to the war in Georgia and comes to the right conclusion:

So, in what the Politico calls a 3 am test, John McCain responds belligerently towards Russia, and were he President there is no doubt it would exacerbate the situation, and it turns out that his top foreign policy advisor just so happened to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the nation of Georgia.

This is right, but John can push this a bit more if he looks back at McCain’s history of statements about Georgia.  As Justin Raimondo wrote for TAC earlier this year, McCain has been taking the anti-Russian line on South Ossetia for years:

In 2006, McCain traveled to Tskhinvali, in the disputed region South Ossetia, where pro-Russian citizens want to secede from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and seek union with Russia. After his visit, he concluded:

I think that the attitude there is best described by what you see by driving in [to Tskhinvali]: a very large billboard with a picture of Vladimir Putin on it, which says ‘Vladimir Putin Our President.’ I do not believe that Vladimir Putin is now, or ever should be, the president of sovereign Georgian soil.

Imagine if the British, annoyed by American encroachments in Texas, had sent a member of Parliament to denounce the defenders of the Alamo. That, at any rate, is how the South Ossetians think of it. And what American interests or values are at stake in that dirt-poor, war-torn corner of the Caucasus?

Of course, McCain’s hostility to Russia and his weird chumminess with the Georgian government predates 2006 and even predates the rise of Saakashvili.  1999-2000 GOP debate watchers may remember how frequently McCain invoked Shevardnadze’s name and declared his desire to defend Georgia against the Russians.  The same advisor who has been on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann, is also the advisor who coined the phrase “rogue state rollback” that McCain was peddling in his first bid for the White House, and in McCain’s mind for almost a decade Russia has been one of the states whose influence he wants to roll back.  This has become evident in other anti-Russian poses he has taken, including his proposal that they be thrown out of the G-8 and excluded from his dangerous pet project, the League of Democracies. 

Reacting to the same article, Robert Stacy McCain says:

So, if getting tough with the Russkies is what you want, Maverick’s your man. 

If “getting tough with” means “mindlessly provoking for no good reason,” that’s absolutely right.