McCAIN THROWS BUSH A LIFE-PRESERVER. Rudy Giuliani spoke to the delegates. John McCain spoke to the country. That's why - despite the gushing you hear over Giuliani's funny, serious, nasty, and at times eloquent speech last night - McCain actually did Bush more good, and got a leg up on his New York rival in (God help us) the 2008 presidential campaign.
I can't find it online this morning, but I'm pretty sure it was Fox News nitwit Morton Kondracke who called McCain's speech "self-serving" in comparison to Giuliani's. What Kondracke liked about Rudy was the way he slashed at Kerry. Later, Kondracke amended his remarks to allow that, well, McCain did offer a rationale with the war in Iraq, and that was useful to Bush.
Well, duh. In fact, McCain - who'd wanted to go to war with Iraq for years - put forth a far more effective argument than George W. Bush has ever managed to muster. If Bush can figure out a way to incorporate McCain's case into his own stump speech, he'll be a lot better off. McCain was wrong, but he was wrong in a way that was so much more palatable than Bush. Here's the heart of what McCain said:
The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots, and his refusal, until his last day in power, to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal. Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war.
It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.
He followed that immediately with his memorable attack on Michael Moore.
Now, of course, there is much in McCain's assessment with which to disagree. He failed to mention that Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had already concluded that Saddam Hussein did not have nukes. McCain also left out the fact that UN weapons inspectors were swarming around Iraq, and that they actually had to leave so that Bush could commence bombing. And, of course, there is the matter of Bush's giving the finger to the world rather than building a genuine international coalition - a tragic mistake given the horrors that are taking place in Iraq today.
Still, McCain was right when he argued that sanctions had pretty much run their course, and that something had to be done. (After all, that's why John Kerry voted to grant war-authorization powers to Bush.) It's just that the "something" Bush chose has turned out to be a widely predicted disaster.
As for McCain's failure to rip into Kerry, a failure that Kondracke found so distasteful - well, everyone who follows politics knows that McCain likes and respects Kerry on a personal level and detests Bush. (The depth of McCain's distaste for the lying Swiftie ads is revealed in this R.W. Apple piece today.) Would anyone have found it even remotely credible if McCain had suddenly gone after Kerry as a flip-flopping weasel?
Rather than coming off as a Republican partisan, McCain projected an image as a truly independent politician who's chosen a man he dislikes over one he likes strictly as a matter of principle. Just as Giuliani thanked God for Bush, Bush ought to thank God for McCain. If McCain managed to help himself in the process, well, what of it?
THE REST OF THE STORY. It's not online, unfortunately, but there's a hilarious omission in today's Boston Globe. The "Names" column includes a photo of Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry with this caption:
POP AND POLITICS - Vanessa (left) and Alexandra Kerry ask for quiet while urging the crowd to vote this fall at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday in Miami.
The discerning will note that the reason they were asking quiet was that they were getting booed (and cheered) by the crowd.
"HOPE NOT FEAR." You can watch the Log Cabin Republicans' 30-second commercial here. Pretty slick move, drafting Ronald Reagan: I'm not sure he'd agree, but he's not going to complain. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain appear in a positive context, too.
I also like the narrator talking about "the politics of intolerance and fear that only lead to hate" while images of Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, and Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum flash by on the screen.
JUST ANOTHER WORKING HACK. Here is Michael Moore's debut column on the RNC for USA Today.