E.J. Dionne joins the chorus of liberal commentators who see John McCain as a tragic figure now that the central theme of his campaign — the need to succeed in Iraq — entails a position they don’t agree with and that aligns him with the president. The key passage in Dionne’s column is this one: “In deciding to make up with the president, McCain’s chosen vehicle was Iraq, on which he genuinely views success in the same terms as the administration.” But if McCain genuinely agrees with the president about Iraq, what basis is there for claiming that McCain chose this issue as a vehicle for making up with the President Bush?
In reality, McCain made up with Bush by supporting him so powerfully during the 2004 campaign (which may be Dionne’s core grievance). When it comes to Iraq, McCain has been a critic of the administration. If McCain and Bush are in accord now, it’s because Bush has adopted McCain’s views, not the other way around.
Although McCain has adopted a more conciliatory tone towards the president in his 2008 campaign than the one he used in 2000 (he’s no longer running against Bush, after all), he has done very little trimming when it comes to substance. Dionne manages to accuse McCain of, in effect, selling out without citing any issue as to which McCain has backed away from a prior position.
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