Oops: McCain Published Op-Ed in Wrong Newspaper?

Daniel Doherty

9/19/2013 10:10:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

In fairness, they have the same name (via Politico):

Sen. John McCain got his wish when his op-ed against Russian President Vladimir Putin was published in Russia news outlet Pravda. The only problem — it may have been the wrong Pravda.

The Arizona Republican published his anti-Putin piece on Pravda.ru on Thursday, an English and Russian news website that was founded in 1999.

But McCain said he was hoping to publish in the Communist newspaper Pravda, meaning “truth” in Russian, which was founded in 1912. That publication, after being banned when the Soviet Union collapsed, was rekindled and is still circulated by today’s Russian Communist Party.

Pravda.ru and the paper are unrelated media outlets, except for the name.

McCain, not surprisingly, balked when the media suggested he accidentally published his op-ed in the “wrong” newspaper:

On Thursday, a spokesman for McCain said the senator submitted the op-ed to both publications and hoped both would run it. He denied Pravda.ru is the “wrong” Pravda.

On Sunday, McCain told reporters that the Communist one was the Pravda he hoped would publish his piece, but that publication’s editor wrote in a statement that the publication would not accept McCain’s op-ed unless it aligned with their position supporting the Syrian regime, according to CNN.

McCain’s critical op-ed on Pravda.ru, titled “Russians deserve better than Putin,” was a response to Putin’s own piece in The New York Times last week criticizing American exceptionalism and arguing against action in Syria. McCain is a longtime critic of Putin and an active supporter of U.S. intervention on behalf of the Syrian opposition.

Speaking of which, McCain’s op-ed is worth a read. Entitled “Russians deserve better than Putin,” McCain excoriated his arch-rival, among other reasons, for impoverishing a great and mighty nation; governing with impunity above the rule of law; punishing dissidents and political activists longing for freedom; and allying himself with the world’s most repressive tyrants and thugs:

President Putin claims his purpose is to restore Russia to greatness at home and among the nations of the world. But by what measure has he restored your greatness? He has given you an economy that is based almost entirely on a few natural resources that will rise and fall with those commodities. Its riches will not last. And, while they do, they will be mostly in the possession of the corrupt and powerful few. Capital is fleeing Russia, which - lacking rule of law and a broad-based economy - is considered too risky for investment and entrepreneurism. He has given you a political system that is sustained by corruption and repression and isn't strong enough to tolerate dissent.

How has he strengthened Russia's international stature? By allying Russia with some of the world's most offensive and threatening tyrannies. By supporting a Syrian regime that is murdering tens of thousands of its own people to remain in power and by blocking the United Nations from even condemning its atrocities. By refusing to consider the massacre of innocents, the plight of millions of refugees, the growing prospect of a conflagration that engulfs other countries in its flames an appropriate subject for the world's attention. He is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world.

President Putin doesn't believe in these values because he doesn't believe in you. He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. Or, at least, he doesn't believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you.

Putin sneeringly and condescendingly mocked the notion of American exceptionalism in a dishonest screed published by the New York Times last week. He said it was “extremely dangerous” for Americans -- or any nation, for that matter -- to see themselves “as exceptional.” “[W]e must not forget that God created us equal,” he wrote. Well, sure, while that may be true -- that all humans are indeed created equal with certain unalienable rights -- perhaps Putin should have studied world history a bit more when he was in school. To borrow a phrase from Lincoln, how many functioning democracies in world history have actually been “conceived in liberty,” allowing a free people for hundreds of years to enjoy, say, a truly free press, open and transparent elections, and fair and speedy trials? One country comes to my mind. Putin, meanwhile, seems to imply that Russia is a democracy in the sense that United States is a democracy. Please. In what meaningful sense, I ask? Putin has ruled with an iron fist, changing laws that keep him in power, crushing his opposition and imprisoning those with whom he disagrees. Small wonder, then, that Putin disdains the United States, its people and, above all, its free institutions.