The ongoing Russian military pounding of the former Soviet bloc nation of Georgia offers an interesting insight into the minds of the two presidential candidates. This is serious business, and incidents like these are excellent trial runs of what our next president would do when that phone rings at 3 in the morning.

By most metrics, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.) has handled this issue better. From his bold statements in quickly (and specifically) denouncing the Russian onslaught to his repeated criticisms of where the current Medvedev/Putin regime is headed as a superpower, the ex-Navy aviator and Senate Armed Services Committee member proved his mettle, in my estimation. He even went so far as to say he would support Georgia’s ascendancy to NATO. Like it or not, that sort of statement shows McCain is peering around the corner — something America must do if it wants to resume its rightful place in the world.

Put simply, he did not equivocate. And while some analysts want to call that “cowboy talk,” it’s the only thing the Russians seem to respond to. McCain even scored high marks on his choice of venue and delivery — normally two weaknesses for the campaign as it has struggled in the past to strike the right tone for the message of the day.

Contrast that presentation with Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCongress needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president CNN's Don Lemon: Anyone supporting Trump ‘complicit' in racism DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm MORE’s (D-Ill.). I’m sorry, but discussing foreign policy in a Hawaiian shirt while on vacation with sub-par sound systems and palm trees waving in the background exudes something less than presidential. Beyond the optics, Sen. Obama’s statements reveal the same mealy talk that has haunted dovish Democrats for four decades. Some could come to understand his lukewarm rebuke of the Russians. After all, harsh talk coming on the heels of a détente tour of Europe would seem to negate Obama’s “one world” theme. Still, it doesn’t mean his position is right. And sooner or later, he’ll need to sharpen his rhetoric (or his judgment) on how to deal diplomatically with a nation that understands the stick more than the carrot.

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