Friday, March 19, 2004

When you least expect it...

Asked about whether he felt Kerry was soft on defense, as the Bush Administration has changed, Senator John McCain said he did not believe Democratic candidate John Kerry, a friend and Senate colleague, was weak on defense or would compromise national security if elected president.

"This kind of rhetoric, I think, is not helpful in educating and helping the American people make a choice," McCain said on 'The Early Show' on CBS."You know, it's the most bitter and partisan campaign that I've ever observed (Ed. - that's saying a lot considering the nature of the one he observed first hand in 2000). I think it's because both parties are going to their bases rather than going to the middle. I regret it"... McCain knows just how unprincipled the Rovian attack machine can be, having suffered at its hands himself. Push having come to shove, our Senator McCain looks like he is putting national interest ahead of partisan loyalty, both in this matter and on his WMD panel.

"The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample doubts about his judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security," Cheney said in a speech Wednesday, in which he laid down the gauntlet for the Administration.

Asked on NBC's 'Today' if he thought Kerry was weak on defense, McCain said: "No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense. He's responsible for his voting record, as we are all responsible for our records, and he'll have to explain it. But, no, I do not believe that he is necessarily weak on defense. I don't agree with him on some issues, clearly. But I decry this negativism that's going on on both sides. The American people don't need it."

When asked on 'The Early Show' if Kerry's election would compromise national security, McCain responded: "I don't think that -- I think that John Kerry is a good and decent man. I think he has served his country."

I was disappointed that McCain would not realistically be able to mount a challenge to Bush for the nomination this cycle, but it seems apparent that he is determined to challenge Bush from a position firmly within the Party. He may not be running against Bush, but he may ultimately do more damage to Bush by working as a critical ally of the Bush Administration. He is able to selectively snipe and bedevil the Bush Administration on their weakest points with a unique credibility. Though McCain is far from my ideal from a policy standpoint, he consistently impresses me with his integrity and professionalism. Republican though he be, John McCain is the sort of principled and heard-nosed realist who knows how to hit the marks .

Rather than lionizing Bushnoccio and Tricky Dick Cheney, today's young Republican leaders of tommorrow ought to venerate John McCain; a true man among men, and a leader in a party dominated by sychophants, careerists, ideologues, Chicken Hawks, and opportunists.


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