Monday, August 21, 2006


Only One Issue, Cont'd

War, it is said, is politics by other means.

Politics, it is said, makes strange bedfellows.

Thus, it appears to logically follow that "war makes strange bedfellows."

How strange then that that seems to be the least examined aspect
of the New York Times's story on John McCain's gobbling up political talent for 2008:

Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush have grown closer politically in the past few years because of a shared commitment to a decisive battle against terrorism and the insurgency in Iraq, although it is unclear if support for the war will win votes in 2008.

But differences remain on a number of issues, including government ethics, federal spending, stem cell research, climate change and treatment of terrorism suspects. Those divergences and any future splits could prove problematic for Mr. McCain, as well as for some of the Bush loyalists who have signed on with him or are considering doing so.
Despite his past challenges to Mr. Bush, many who served in the president's campaigns or his administration are lining up behind Mr. McCain.
Just the one mention above of raq. But, with the notable exception of immigration, it is the ONLY issue that truly bonds Bush and McCain.

Indeed, this seems to be another example where Iraq has become the unifying issue for what it means to be an acceptable Republican or, as in the case of Joe Lieberman, "an independent that is acceptable to Republicans." Conversely, not how much fellow "maverick" (and Vietnam War hero), Chuck Hagel is now grilled even more than McCain on his GOP bona fides -- because he has taken a far more skeptical stance on the efficacy of the Iraq War.

It is is interesting to note McCain is doing his best to spread his wings to reach the two wings of Republican foreign policy:
The group Mr. McCain consults on foreign policy includes neoconservatives like William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, as well as members of the so-called realist school of foreign policy thought like Brent Scowcroft and Mr. Armitage, who along with his former boss, [Colin] Powell, battled the influence of neoconservatives in Mr. Bush’s first term.
This suggests that McCain wants to have more of an earnest debate in his foreign policy policy discussions than appears to have occurred during the Bush years.

Even as a strong supporter of Iraq, McCain has also been one of the strongest critics of the Guantanamo policy and one of the most outraged over Abu Ghraib. The tension between the neoconservatives and the realist wings would be a good one if a President McCain insisted not only following the rules of war -- which too many of the current administration seemed willing to toss overboard -- but also believing in their moral importance.

Still, given that the war is the issue of the moment and, at the end of the day, more important for Republicans to figure out than Democrats, one is perplexed that The Times would give so remarkably little space to it in formulating why the Bush and McCain camps would have reached something of a rapprochement.

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