Andrew Sullivan’s very smart case for McCain:
McCain offers the Republicans a way to support a still unpopular war and maintain a scintilla of credibility on national security. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson have all punted on the issue of Iraq to some degree or other in the campaign so far. None will directly attack President George Bush, since he is still a semi-religious figure among the Republican base. All support the surge for now, but none has detailed what they would do next year, let alone the first year of their own potential presidency. We know Giuliani wants to bomb Iran. But we know little else.
Which leaves McCain. Yes, he’s still out there. His disappointing past six months have had one beneficial effect: he has stopped being too cautious, resumed his habit of talking nonstop to any hack within hearing range, and put his mother on television to have a go at Romney.
I loved his response to the somewhat staggering news that the Christian right’s Pat Robertson had now joined Giuliani’s campaign: “I’m speechless.” Well, when two oddballs gather together – one who blamed feminists and gays for causing 9/11, the other who hounded ferret owners as mayor of New York City – silence is often golden. McCain has even attacked Senator Hillary Clinton for securing federal funds for a Woodstock museum. It may be 2007, but you can still run against hippies.
McCain, however, looks better not just because he has stuck to his pro-war position while acknowledging painful reality, but because the others have increasingly looked so unnerving. Romney’s plastic demeanour and say-anything style have not caught on outside the first two states where he has poured millions of his own money into blanket television advertising. Thompson has yet to seem a viable president. Giuliani’s bizarre personal quirks and all-purpose, random hawkishness do not calm nerves in a very unstable world. Fellow Republican candidate Mike Huckabee is a jovial inheritor of Bush’s spend-like-Jesus conservatism, but has zero foreign policy experience. And so . . . we come back to McCain.