While Newsweek's Jonathan Alter (and other pundits) are positing that his steadfast "we've won, or we're winning, or we're gonna win, or we better win" stance on Iraq is derailing the Straight Talk Express, Ryan Sager at the New York Sun offers instead that it's the main thing keeping John McCain's political chances alive–and also that he isn't as dead as he seems, except perhaps to his former non-conservative media believers. Saith Sager:
Not only do I not believe Iraq is hurting Mr. McCain with Republican primary voters, I'd go so far as to say that Iraq is the only reason Mr. McCain is still even a viable candidate on the Republican side. Mr. McCain has engendered a tremendous amount of ill will among Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, during his career. Campaign-finance reform, attacks on the religious right, the campaign against President Bush in 1999-2000 (and lingering hostility thereafter), being the darling of the "liberal" media — none endeared him to the base.
But standing by the Iraq war when the going has gotten tough, that speaks to a lot of Republican primary voters. It's not as if the anti-war senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel, has been taking off. And it's not as if Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney has been running away from Iraq, either. The people who are mad at Mr. McCain over Iraq are people like … Jonathan Alter. And the rest of the media.
For all the other reasons to want McCain to meltdown toot sweet, see Matt Welch's April Reason cover feature .