Michael: McCain gets on the right side of historyJohn McCain has backed Democratic calls for hearings with top Adminstration officials on the misuse of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war. This shrewdly positions McCain as pro-war, but also pro-accountability. McCain is saavy enough to know that the public will not long tolerate a stone-walling Administration, but generally has the patience to endure a difficult war if leveled with.
We Democrats see the numbers trending toward opposition to the war, but Republican centrists like McCain only see that the American people are fed up with the way the war is being fought and the distortions which started it. McCain is likely feeling confident that once the hard truths are out and there is an 'accountability moment' that he can still win the Presidency by proving the he is honest and has a plan for victory.
Of course, I think McCain is misguided in his views on Iraq, and in his craven support for Christo-fascists like Senator Santorum, but getting out in front of the issue of truth and accountability for the misuse of intelligence as a pretext for war is the strongest move a 2008 GOP contender can do. Senator Warner, another short-lister for the 2008 GOP nomination, proves the strength of the move by calling for Bush to give the public regular updates on Iraq's progress by means of a regular "fireside chat." Though it does ramp up the pressure on the Administration to be more forthcoming, Warner's challenge is weak because it allows the Administration to continue to control the message and limit access to information. The quarterly reports to the Senate Warner pressed for earlier, based on Democratic legislation, have a better chance of supplying accurate information to the public because the opposition will have a chance to act as interlocutor, questioning the accurancy and completeness of the Administration's information. In a 'fireside chat' format Bush can simply continue living in his reality-free bubble.