Georgia/Russia: Mr. Yglesias is from Missouri, Mr. Obama from inside the box

John McCain today said “We are all Georgians.” Matthew Yglesias, a formidable young liberal U.S. blogger (now at a new, frankly partisan home after leaving The Atlantic), dissents. Cleverly. If Russia’s armies had invaded Georgia the state, Americans would respond differently than McCain probably wants them to respond this week. So McCain’s statement is meaningless at best and pernicious at worst. I’ll let Matt finish the thought.

But I want to say a word about Barack Obama’s response to the Georgia war. He (or his campaign; he’s supposed to be on vacation) has played catch-up to McCain all week. Which you only do if you think the other guy is going somewhere useful.

And indeed, here’s a McCain fan arguing Obama “took three tries to get it right.” What does “getting it right” mean? Only this: instead of arguing that there are inevitable limits to American power and proper limits to American interest in the region, Obama wound up hinting disingenuously, with McCain, that there are no limits of either kind. He simply took longer to get there.

Obama’s brand advantage, if there is to be one, is that he will represent a radical and enlightened departure from the worst instincts of the Bush years. Instead I keep seeing a guy who has to be taught how to imitate those instincts. It’s not ideal.

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