Who Was He, and What Is He Doing Not Here?


Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is feeling a tad defensive about his coverage of John McCain:

In some recent magazine articles, I and certain of my colleagues have been accused of being soft on McCain, forgiving him his flips, his flops and his mostly conservative ideology. I do not plead guilty to this charge, because, over the years, the man's imperfections have not escaped my keen eye.

The magazine article he alludes to is findable here. Cohen continues on, grudgingly:

But, for the record, let's recapitulate: McCain has either reversed himself or significantly amended his positions on immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign spending (as it applies to use of his wife's corporate airplane) and, most recently, offshore drilling. In the more distant past, he has denounced then embraced certain ministers of medieval views and changed his mind about the Confederate flag, which flies by state sanction in South Carolina only, I suspect, to provide Republican candidates with a chance to choose tradition over common decency. There, I've said it all.

Throat thus cleared, here comes the big "but":

But here is the difference between McCain and Obama—and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also—and more important—that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over.

Question: If demonstrating an impressively brave breaking point in a Vietnamese prison gives you a qualitative advantage in becoming U.S. president, wouldn't that mean we should really be looking for the few tough S.O.B.s who didn't break at all? Like, you know, James Stockdale?

NEXT: "I Remember Nixonland as a Beautiful Place!"

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  1. but isn’t Stockdale a democrat? everyone knows democrats are wimps on foreign policy.

  2. I’ve been hearing a lot about McCain’s “honor” recently. If he isn’t going to duel Obama with pistols at ten paces, I’m not interested(or believe he has any) in the man’s “honor”.

  3. Yeah, I can totally believe that as a young man hardened by the military, John McCain was tough as nails. He’s had over three decades to turn into a dishrag. Albeit a dishrag with a short temper.

  4. the innominate one | June 24, 2008, 5:12pm | #
    but isn’t Stockdale a democrat? everyone knows democrats are wimps on foreign policy.

    Stockdale would be a very ineffective president, being dead and all. Great man, too. We could use more like him, only alive.

  5. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over.

    I expect we’ll be seeing McCain go off on one of his campaign advisors in public at some point.

  6. 1. The brain fails rapisly with old age.
    2. He was never that smart to begin with. (graduated at the bottom 1% of his class at the naval academy.)
    3. Not a good soldier. (McCain never excelled in the army. Lot’s of reprimands.

    4. McCain kept crashing his Navy planes.(not a good pilot. Was he in because his grandpappy was an Admiral?) Heck, they wouldn’t even give him the better jets in the war. C’mon McCain, open your military record to the public.

    Summary: Not bright. Now, less bright because of his age.

  7. Mccain admits that his captors went easy on him. His companions suffered more. I do’t know how they pushed him, exactly.

  8. 1. The brain fails rapisly with old age.

    There ought to be a law…

  9. The best line in the article was when Cohen called Obama’s jive “socialist realism.”

    Finally, someone said it. And Cohen’s a leftie.

  10. Josh,

    McCain doesn’t owe his career to affirmative action, like some other slow-witted presidential candidate we won’t name.

  11. RJH I’m pretty sure Bush didn’t get into Yale through AA. I don’t like Obama but the guy is obviously “smart” enough to get into a good school.

  12. Richard Herstein knew Barack Obama was an affirmative action admission the first time he laid eyes on him.

  13. Barack Obama is a school admissions officer’s dream. African-American without the taint of “slave-blood”.

  14. Well, now we know what name Don Imus is posting with.

  15. “RJH I’m pretty sure Bush didn’t get into Yale through AA.”

    Sure he did, just not racial AA. Bush got in through ‘Idiot Scions Of The Upper Crust’ affirmative action.

  16. Herein lies one of the big problems with affirmative action: even if someone like Obama earned every ounce of his success, lots of people will doubt it. Perhaps even the beneficiary of affirmative action.

    It’s why Clarence Thomas didn’t think his law degree from Yale was worth the paper it was written on.

  17. Jon H,
    Good to see someone calling out the hypocrisy of “race preference bad, legacy a-ok!”

  18. McCain’s ImmigrationPosition is still basically the same as it was in the recent past. The idea that he’s flipflopped is just a useful lie that various BHO hacks use (despite it making their situation even worse). One would have to be a complete hack or a complete idiot (or both) to think that McCain wants something other than what he wanted in 2005 to 2007.

  19. So what’s your breaking point, Matt Welch? I’m guessing you can still raise you hands above your head, at least.

  20. Nobody ever ran down black success before affirmative action, viewed successful black people as having taken what rightfully belonged to a white person, or reflexively underestimated black peole’s ability and value.

    And certainly, the people who immediately assume the successful black people they see don’t deserve their success would otherwise be racial egalitarians.

  21. So what’s your breaking point, Matt Welch?

    You just broke it.

  22. Richard J. Herrnstein,

    Thanks for playing the role of idiot strawman here. I’m sure that the Obama campaign thanks you for your service.

  23. lonewacko,

    Ad hominem much?

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