Why do newspapers keep publishing op-eds by John McCain?

It isn’t that every column he writes is later disproved by events. Every so often, he gets something right (though not, I would argue, the surge, which ultimately didn’t win the Iraq War), and typically, his newspaper pronouncements are so vague, platitudinous, or nonspecific in nature that they’re effectively unfalsifiable. If there are striking or valuable insights in his oeuvre I haven’t found them. What benefits offset the costs of when he is supremely confident and dead wrong?

Here he is in The Wall Street Journal on July 13, 2012, making confident pronouncements about Libya’s path to a stable, democratic future; insisting an election there discredited naysayers of American intervention; and arguing that postwar Libya demonstrated that the United States would be wise to intervene in Syria too. In other words, he didn’t just fail to anticipate that Libya would soon descend into chaos—he was eager to prematurely use its “success” to justify another war…

McCain is not a prescient foreign-policy analyst, and newspapers should stop giving him a platform to confidently assert what will happen next in geopolitics. He thinks he knows his stuff. But his track record shows that he’s emphatic in his pronouncements even when he is utterly, catastrophically wrong.

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