Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Honor of John McCain

Roger Cohen, over at the New York Times, thinks John McCain's too conservative, and wouldn't support him for the presidency! Here's the introduction:

Nobody’s been right all the time on Iraq, but Senator John McCain has been less wrong than most. He knew a bungled war when he saw one and pressed early for increased force levels. He backed the injection last year of some 30,000 troops, a surge that has produced results.

Modest results, yes, and violence has blipped upward again this month, and, yes, Iraqi political progress is slow. But progress is always slow when a population terrorized over decades is freed. Violent attacks were down 60 percent in December from their 2007 high and refugees have begun to go home.

A trickle homeward, yes, a speck in the ocean of 2.2 million Iraqis forced into exile, but tens of thousands of people don’t return unless they see hope. That’s why more than 4 million Afghans have gone home since the Taliban’s fall.

Yes, I know, the myriad Iraqi dead won’t return.

McCain was politically dead six months ago, his campaign undone by his backing of President Bush’s Iraq policy. His remarkable resurgence, which has put him in the lead among Republican candidates, according to recent polls, is one measure of the Iraq shift.

That shift has unsettled the political ground. With Iraq looking less hopeless, McCain has scored points for being consistent and forthright on the war — a quality shared only by Barack Obama (in his opposition to it) among leading candidates.

At the same time, an economy getting a subprime pummeling has nudged Iraq from the center of Americans’ concerns. The victory of McCain’s rival Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary came in a state craving quick fixes for 7.4 percent unemployment. McCain didn’t offer that.

So, three states have chosen distinct Republican candidates, with a social conservative, Mike Huckabee, triumphing in Iowa; McCain taking New Hampshire with independent support; and Romney using his C.E.O. image to win Michigan. Bush’s party is split: God, heroic nation and Wall Street are out of sync.

It’s been widely assumed that the Democratic Party’s shoot-itself-in-the-foot capacity, evident in 2004, would have to hit overdrive to wrest defeat from victory this year. These Republican splits comfort the notion of inevitable Democratic triumph.

But, as Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute noted, “There’s no doubt that the one Republican candidate that leaves most Democrats quaking is McCain. They’re uneasy about the breadth of his appeal.”
Read the whole thing.

Not too many folks think the Arizona Senator's too conservative (see the point at Cohen's conclusion). There's no doubt, though, that McCain's honor is unimpeachable; and I don't think there's another candidate in the race - on either side of the aisle - who's more prepared to be chief executive.

The man's stubborn, and it showed in his inflexible message in this week's Michigan campaigning. But we could use more straight talk in the country, on economic issues and beyond, and such leadership starts at the top.

The Democrats know it, and so do McCain's GOP rivals. It's no surprise that a McCain-swiftboating campaign's already begun down South. The stakes are high, and there's no room for pussy-footing around,
but McCain's rapid reaction team is already on the job.

On to South Carolina!