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As I predicted earlier this week, now that Senator John McCain has forcefully told the Democrats to find someone else for the VP slot, the media which took a Democratic fantasy and blew it all out of proportion has now scrambled to rewrite the meta-story. Mike Allen reports today for the Post that McCain and George Bush have "put aside their animosity" to campaign together for Bush's re-election, continuing the new story line of bringing two old foes back together for one last hurrah:
Bush and McCain, whose relations had been at best businesslike since they faced off in the GOP primaries of 2000, praised each other effusively as they appeared on the same podium for the first time in more than four years.
Bush, waving repeatedly to the crowd as he strode onto the stage amid applause, walked straight toward McCain and put his arms around him. The Arizonan leaned his head toward Bush's cheek, and then the president grinned as the senator whispered in his ear.
The rapprochement will be heartwarming to everyone ... except the Democrats, who foolishly inflated John McCain into an oracle of sensibility and centrism in their greed to assume his mantle. After spending three months chasing after the war hero and political maverick, praising him to the heavens and giving him an unprecedented level of support across the entire Democratic spectrum, the Kerry campaign must now sit silent while McCain appears at rallies and makes speeches like this, which I note Allen doesn't bother to quote in his article but instead runs in a separate transcript:
For we cannot make victory on the battlefield more difficult to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct. While intelligence, law enforcement and diplomacy are all important components of our strategy, none is more important than the honorable and dangerous work that is yours.
The man I introduce to you today understands all this and understands it very, very well. He heard the call to action on that terrible morning in September and summoned the rest of us to this long and difficult task. He has led this country with moral clarity about the stakes involved and with firm resolve to achieve unconditional victory.
Democrats have no one but themselves to blame for McCain's now near-untouchable credibility, and can do nothing but sit silently while he applies it to Bush's re-election. The media will continue to show this as a marriage of convenience, but in truth McCain and Bush share far stronger views on policy than McCain and Kerry. Kerry's campaign has inadvertently underscored the legitimacy of the pro-life movement and the war in Iraq by demonstrating not just a tolerance of these positions but an avaricious pursuit of their supporter. It will be difficult to cast Bush as an extremist now after so publicly wooing McCain. And any attack on McCain will only damage the Democrats' credibility from this point forward.
Kerry had better hope that Cheney stays on the ticket, and failing that, that McCain doesn't fill his slot. Otherwise, their dream VP candidacy will become their worst nightmare.
UPDATE: In the meantime, the left is distancing themselves from McCain at light speed. Billmon at the Whiskey Bar writes:
There may be Republicans out there who would be good fits for a fusion ticket to oppose the Bush-Cheney-Delay Texas mafia - although no names come to my mind that I think would bring any significant electoral benefits over, say, a John Edwards or a Wesley Clark. But Kerry McCain would have represented a consolidation of the very worst neoliberal and neoconservative instincts on foreign policy - a case of darkness reaching for darkeness. It would have further solidified the new "Cold War consensus" among the political elites in the center, and further marginalized the anti-imperialist factions on either end of the political spectrum. It would probably have driven me personally into the Nader camp.
So I suppose I should give McCain a backhanded thank you for finally lining up with his fellow militarists. He may have marginally improved Shrub's chances of pulling it out in November, but he's also helped the anti-imperialist left keep at least a foot in the door of the Democratic Party.
While (to be fair) Billmon never stumped for the Kerry-McCain idea, expect a number of those who did to adopt Billmon's rhetoric.Sphere It View blog reactions
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