Monday, February 11, 2008
now i know i wanna win the war:
Jon "This Man Is Not A Republican" Chait has a fantastic McCain thinkpiece in TNR. (Whomever gave it the headline "Maverick Vs. Iceman" also deserves kudos.) With typical Chaitian economy, it cleanly places McCain in precisely the context the GOP frontrunner doesn't want: a Kerry-esque figure who doesn't understand himself.

Except for one thing:
Even the ideological tendency McCain is most strongly identified with--neoconservative foreign policy--is, as John B. Judis explained in The New Republic, a relatively recent development: McCain originally opposed intervention in Bosnia and worried about a bloody ground campaign before the first Gulf war (see "Neo-McCain," October 16, 2006). McCain's advisers include not only neoconservatives but also the likes of Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft. It would hardly be unimaginable for McCain to revert to his old realism, especially if Iraq continues to fail at political reconciliation. He could easily be the president who ends the war.
Eh, I dunno. Maybe. Nixon in China and all that. But McCain would lose precisely the remaining conservatives he would need to get reelected if he began a withdrawal. I thought Judis's piece kind of overstated McCain's realism: it was less a function of deep-seated belief than on the confluence of different political circumstances -- namely, a Democrat was president, and it was pre-9/11. When circumstances change, the bellicosity that has always been evident in McCain's political persona amplified tremendously. He also just may actually believe, as he said last month, that we really do need to stay in Iraq forever.
--Spencer Ackerman