John McCain's strategy was transparent. Over and over again, on various foreign policy issues, he said Barack Obama did not "understand" them, was "naive" about them, or simply didn't "get it."
But there was a curious moment in this first debate that was a boomerang on that tactic, for anyone with the least bit of memory about the last 7 1/2 years. McCain said he would put pressure on Iran by forming a league of democracies, a group of nations with whom we share interests, ideals, and values.
A league of democracies? McCain was fortunate that Obama did not walk all over that one.
McCain's Republican Party, under President Bush, did everything it could in these last two terms to tell the world that we were in our own league. We either make all the rules, such as unilaterally invading Iraq under false pretenses, or we ignore the will of the world, such as on climate change.
We barely acknowledge the United Nations, except to bully it into our position.
So that made something else transparent.
If foreign policy has anything to do with who the next president is, McCain is banking on Americans thinking only of the here and now - he sees the surge in Iraq as working while hoping voters forget that he was for the most disastrous military blunder since the Vietnam War.
He wants people to believe he can actually form a league of democracies at the same time that he said he would continue the Iraq policies of a president who has given America a bad name in much of the rest of the world.
McCain is hoping that the voter doesn't understand what has happened to the reputation of America.