The new Capitol Hill newspaper, The Politico, launches tomorrow. In its lead story — an exclusive interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — the senator lashes out against Vice President Dick Cheney. Roger Simon writes:
With his presidential hopes tied to an administration whose Iraq policy he supports but cannot control, John McCain for the first time blamed Vice President Cheney for what McCain calls the “witch’s brew” of a “terribly mishandled” war in which U.S. forces are on the verge of defeat.
Although McCain had once lavished praise on the vice president, he said in an interview in his Senate office: “The president listened too much to the Vice President … Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense.”
At a July 15, 2004 appearance in Michigan, McCain called Cheney “one of the most capable, experienced, intelligent and steady vice presidents this country has ever had.”
Also in the interview, McCain continued his back-pedaling from the escalation strategy that he first proposed. After offering a full-throated endorsement of the Bush plan just days ago, McCain opened the door to the redeployment of U.S. forces back to the borders of Iraq should the president’s plan fail. He added, “I don’t know if this is enough troops or not. I can’t guarantee success by doing this.”