The Wall Street Journal calls this "McCain's finest hour."
These columns have had more than one disagreement with John McCain over the years, especially on issues that typically win the Arizona Republican accolades from the rest of the media: campaign-finance reform, global warming, detainee interrogations and tax cuts. Yet now that he is under attack from his erstwhile media "base" for refusing to repudiate the war in Iraq, we think he deserves some covering fire. The word for what he's demonstrating is character.
Presidential campaigns often have their defining media moments, for better or worse: Think of Teddy Kennedy's fumbling replies to Roger Mudd's Chappaquiddick questions in 1979, or George H. W. Bush shaking off the so-called wimp factor in his 1988 interview with Dan Rather. It's too soon to say if Mr. McCain's interview Sunday with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" will be equally defining. But it certainly illuminated the chasm that distinguishes Mr. McCain from the Beltway media that used to adore him.
The most revealing exchange came when Mr. Pelley, in all apparent seriousness, asked the Senator "at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?"
Answered Mr. McCain: "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. I still believe the majority of the American people, when asked, say if you can show them a path to success . . . then they'll support it." Later Mr. Pelley observed that Mr. McCain was betting his entire campaign on the success of the current "surge" strategy in Baghdad. The Senator replied that he'd "rather lose a campaign than lose a war."
Jonah Goldberg has also come to McCain's defense. He compares McCain favorably to Rudy Guiliani. Goldberg sees McCain's candidacy as a referendum on Iraq, which he calls "a bold and courageous" move.
By positioning himself to the hawkish right of the Bush administration, McCain might be able to make the election a referendum on the future of Iraq, rather than a referendum on the last four years. As a war hero with two sons in the military, McCain can argue with obvious moral authority that while we may have blundered our way into Iraq, it would be an even greater blunder to get out before winning.I'm impressed with McCain's principled stand. How about you?
There are many reasons to have reservations about McCain: his love of regulation, his animosity toward free-marketers, or simply his age and temper. But conservatives who claim that the war trumps everything but won’t even consider pulling the lever for McCain have some growing up to do.