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?