Senator McCain Needs to Remember Honor and Rectitude
With Rasmussen showing Romney ahead in Florida, 32% to 27%, it's not hard to see why John McCain is doing his best to change the subject and reverse what looks like a pro-Romney trend there. (The Rasmussen poll was taken before Governor Crist endorsed McCain; it's unclear what the impact of that will be, but getting the endorsement certainly was one of McCain's last-ditch gambits.)
Both Mitt Romney and John McCain need desperately to win in Florida. Whichever of the two of them wins there is probably headed to the nomination. So it's interesting to see how each candidate is bearing up under the pressure. Of the two, I think McCain is showing the least grace.
According to the Washington Post, McCain's latest tactic has been to dredge up comments Romney made a year ago and characterize them as favoring American withdrawal from Iraq:
"If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher."Romney responded angrily with a summary of his public statements that support the surge in Iraq, and demanded an apology from McCain, saying the Senator's statement is "simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize."
McCain pressed his message by not responding to Romney's demand and, in effect, restating his original attack:
"The apology is owed to the young men and women serving this nation in uniform, that we will not let them down in hard times or good. That is who the apology is owed to."
McCain's charge against Romney is simply false. There is no doubt about it. Bill Bennett called McCain's attack "below the belt." But McCain can't afford to allow the discussion to continue to focus on the economy, about which he is admittedly an ignoramus, while the electorate shifts Romney's way.
I am a Romney partisan, but you need not take my word for it on McCain's mendacity. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line offers a down-the middle analysis:
I don't think Romney's statement fairly can be construed as advocating setting a date for our withdrawal. . . .How can it be that McCain, Mr. Straight Talk, can engage in such dishonesty? It reminds me of a recent post by Scott Johnson, also of Power Line, which offers one of the most insightful observations about McCain's character that I have seen:
On the other hand, there’s little doubt that Romney was less resolute on Iraq than McCain. . . .So McCain has the better record, but that doesn't justify trying to make Romney’s record sound worse than it is. . . .
Lindsey Graham was on with Sean Hannity this evening and misrepresented Romney's statement. Par for the course for this reprehensible politician.
John McCain seems rarely to differentiate issues of constitutional principle from issues of practical politics. He is unbending both when he is right and when he is wrong on these issues. To say that McCain is not a party man does not do justice to the case; he tends to subsume practical political questions into matters of personal honor, and occasionally to miss applicable constitutional principles in the process. One might call the tendency Caesarist, except that Senator McCain apparently aspires to be seen exceeding the purity of Caesar’s wife.IN OTHER WORDS, McCain is devoted to principles of honor and rectitude, and is very convinced of his own. That's why he becomes angry when others disagree with him on policy issues: They do not share his honor. They must therefore be corrupt.
Meanwhile, Romney wants to talk about the economy and about the future. He is not digging up old McCain statements and mis representing them.
Oh John, where is thine honor?