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Does John McCain need talking points?

Marc Ambinder, writing about today's fascinating Elizabeth Bumiller story on the Obama foreign-policy team, observes:

The McCain response to all this -- John doesn't need daily talking points -- is a reflection on Obama's learning curve, although McCain is also very clearly learning as he is going, too.

Matt Yglesias complains:

It's true that, in some sense, McCain doesn't need daily talking points. But the reason he doesn't need daily talking points isn't that he can talk about national security issues with fluency and skill without them. Lacking daily talking points, he's repeatedly confused Sunni and Shiite, repeatedly forgotten that Czechoslovakia doesn't exist, changed his position on Afghanistan twice in 24 hours, etc. In short, he's made a ton of gaffes just as you would expect from an underprepared candidate. But he's allowed to get away with a lack of adequate preparation because, in the mind of the press, his years in captivity decades ago are adequate demonstration that he understands national security issues even though there's no real basis for that view.

Please. McCain doesn't need an advisor to inform him that the Czech Republic and Slovakia are separate nations. He knows this; he just misspoke (twice). Ditto for the Sunni/Shiite stuff. It happens when you age. And "the press," of course, isn't letting McCain get away with anything -- just how did we find out about all this? Maybe CzechoslovakiaGate and these other gaffes have failed to light up the cable networks simply because they aren't really a big deal.

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