John McCain, a United States Senator from Arizona and one-time Republican presidential candidate, has a history of screwing up people’s names. His now famous gaf during a presidential debate is a good example of his proclivity to call people something other than their actual moniker. But he may have (finally) overstepped the boundary of name-calling with his latest comments regarding Nigeria. As the largest country in Africa is facing a harrowing crisis caused by the terrorist group Boko Haram, some in the United States are calling for direct military action, including the venerable senator and war hero. But John McCain expressed his views in one of the worst ways possible and actually made fun of the Nigerian president’s name.
It should be noted that the United States senator has a problem with names. During one presidential debate in 2008, he referred to Obama as “that one,” prompting an incredulous email from then Obama press secretary Bill Burton. The comment was labelled as “odd” by commentators, but generally ignored as anything other than a campaign problem. The then Republican candidate even made fun of it at a dinner hosted by the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. Nevertheless, he is starting to show a disturbing trend of messing up when it comes to the names of presidents.
This latest issue cannot be passed off as “odd,” however. Instead, it has become a serious public relations problem for the United States and might actually need an apology instead of a comedy routine. In an interview with The Daily Beast, McCain called Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan “some guy” and stated that he would not allow him to stand in the way of american intervention in the kidnapping situation created by Boko Haram. Unlike 2008, he did not just miscall a politician. Instead, John McCain directly made fun of the Nigerian president with whom the United States will have to work amicably in order to rescue the over 200 abducted girls.
This kind of incident is enough to make some people thankful that he is not the American president at this time, not just because of the bad press, but because of John McCain’s view on the entire situation. While the “some guy” comment has received most of the headlines, his interview revealed a serious misunderstanding of government sovereignty and the role of the United States in the world. According to John McCain, the United States can just waltz into any country it wants in order to take a military action. In his view, American has become weak under Obama’s leadership by not living up to its commitments, most of which he seems to believe involve the military.
John McCain has an interesting view of solidarity with oppressed peoples. His “We are all Georgians” remark definitively expressed his connection with people who experience injustice, but his idea of helping is to engage in military action. He has been critical of President Obama, especially after there was no attack on Syria after the supposed crossing of the line on that situation. While the Arizona Senator’s belief that America should stand up for the rights of human beings everywhere, his martial focus on military action is at odds with the opinion of many Americans who do not want their country engaged in another war.
John McCain is not the American president, which might be a good thing as far as Nigeria is concerned. Issues of the sovereignty of nations are crucial when it comes to international relations and the senator seems to ignore them as much as he ignores good manners. While the kidnapping of these 200 Nigerian girls is a serious problem, violating international law is not a good way to go about fixing it. Neither is making fun of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s name, which John McCain seems comfortable abbreviating to “some guy.”