Raising McCain

Ryan Lizza, writing on his New Republic blog, highlights comments made yesterday by Sen. John McCain, which, as Lizza puts it, don’t exactly “come from the officially approved Bush-Cheney talking points.” After Dick Cheney attacked John Kerry two days ago on national security issues, McCain said of Kerry “No, I do not believe he is necessarily weak on defense.” McCain also said that America’s image around the world “can and will change with proper leadership.” According to Lizza “It looks like John McCain might actually serve Kerry better as an off-message Bush supporter than as a Kerry running-mate.”

McCain’s comments send Andrew Sullivan in a different direction. Given that “McCain knows Kerry and doesn’t believe he’d be ‘weak on defense’”, Sullivan says, maybe there wouldn’t, after all, be that much difference between Bush and Kerry, national-security-wise. Sullivan — who just last week was painting the two candidates’ approaches to the war on terror as night and day — now asks: “Wouldn’t (Kerry) be obliged to continue Bush’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan? … I’m not yet convinced … but I’m persuadable.”

Another blogging Sullivan, Amy, writing on The Gadflyer, thinks it’s silly that the media is making a big deal out of the fact that major nominees have already been chosen in mid-March. She points out that Al Gore and George Bush in 2000, and Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996, wrapped up their nominations just as early. But she doesn’t say whether she thinks this is a good thing.

Josh Chafetz — who, in case you missed it, is a 2001 Rhodes Scholarsees evidence of Mickey Kaus’ Feiler Faster thesis in the Bush campaign’s latest move. Responding to a Bush ad that attacked him for voting against the Iraq war funding bill, Kerry announced that, “I actually did vote for his $87 billion, before I voted against it.” So the Bush team cut a new ad that tacks on Kerry’s response at the end.

And a poster on the website of Kos — who’s featured prominently in a Vanity Fair story this month on bloggers — challenges the C.W. that Kerry had a bad week. The post highlights comments by the Polish president that his government was “taken for a ride” on W.M.D., and throws in what he calls “the Medicare scandal” and Kerry’s healthy fundraising totals, concluding, “it’s not such bad week after all.”

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.