Despite the infamous Bush/McCain animosity that the incredibly vicious 2000 Republican primaries produced, Arizona's Rep. Jeff Flake says he believes the turnaround is sincere, mostly a function of the AZ senator's commitment to Bush's foreign policy vision.
I'll buy that. But an AZ delegate in a VWF outfit sitting a few rows behind Flake had a bizarrely Orwellian reply to questions about this newfound male bonding: "John McCain has always supported the president. I don't know what you're talking about." I concede that he's not been publicly antagonistic for the most part (I make no mention of McCain's hilarious Daily Show appearance) but point out the widely reported post-primary tension. He looks at me like I've just announced I'm a communist mole: "He has always supported the president. No further comment."
Most folks aren't resorting to that kind of revisionism, but the difference between the atmosphere here and the kind of internal dissension I'm used to seeing on the right in D.C. is fairly striking. I can't count the number of times I've heard in response to some issue contentious among conservatives (immigration for Texans, gay marriage for younger Republicans) almost the exact phrasing: "Well, there's that, but on 90 percent of the issues…" Which shouldn't be remotely surprising, of course; that's the kind of shindig this is. But I'd gotten used to a kind of dogged left unity in the face of the need to beat Bush while conservatives squabble amongst themselves over this issue or that. We're seeing the opposite here: Lefties in the street who sometimes hate each other (moderates vs. anarchists vs. Spartacists) as much as Bush and conservatives not only united but apparently even genuinely enthusiastic about their candidate. I never bought strained Dem attempts to appear excited about Kerry, which was comforting in its own way: At least they realize they're stumping for the lesser evil. At least they'd have to stifle a guffaw if they described their guy as a "straight shooter." Authentic reverence for a either of these guys is terrifying.