Sen. McCain's Terrible Fearmongering On Egypt

February 04, 2011 1:11 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Last year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called on Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to end the country's emergency law - in place since 1981 - and start a meaningful transition to democracy. A Senate resolution he and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced explicitly called for democracy, human rights and civil liberties in Egypt. "Genuine political reform in that country," the bipartisan resolution read, "will help to counter extremism while also solidifying prospects for stability and prosperity."

Most forcefully, the resolution called on Mubarak...

to end all arbitrary detention, torture, and other forms of harassment against media professionals, human rights defenders and activists, and opposition figures, fully respect freedom of expression and association, and release all individuals detained for peaceful expression as well as those detained under the emergency law for issues unrelated to drug or terrorism allegations...

Strong stuff, to be sure. Though the resolution was ultimately killed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), John McCain was on the right side when it came to human rights and democracy in Egypt.

Something's changed since then, however. Now that a revolution has come to Egypt, McCain is singing a different tune. Like almost everyone (except these few people) watching the uprising, McCain has come out against Mubarak. In a press release announcing a resolution introduced by him and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), McCain says, "The Egyptian people are demanding a democratic future, and they deserve nothing less."

But McCain is now doing everything he can to scaremonger the heck out of the situation. You'd think from listening to him that the Muslim Brotherhood was virtually identical to al Qaeda. Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the leaders of the opposition movement, McCain told Fox's Sean Hannity, "is not a friend of the United States." (ElBaradei, McCain claims, is a puppet with little support inside Egypt.) He isn't just worried about the situation in Egypt, either. The larger democracy movement scares the bejesus out of him so much so that he characterized it as a "virus is spreading throughout the Middle East."

McCain's support for Egypt's democratic future clearly has its limits. Add democracy promotion to the long list of issues that the self-proclaimed maverick of the Senate is willing to flip-flop on.