What Would John McCain Do?


My assumption has been that if John McCain becomes President of the United States this would be an improvement over George W. Bush in some respects but not on the topic of national security policy where, if anything, McCain seems to be a more committed militarist than Bush. John Judis, who despite the TNR affiliation has sound views on such things, writes “I have liked John McCain ever since I met him almost a decade ago” and finds him a relatively congenial politician, nevertheless, he’s very much opposed to McCain’s current foreign policy views:

And therein lies my McCain dilemma–and, perhaps, yours. If, like me, you believe that the war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster, then you are likely disturbed by McCain’s early and continuing support for it–indeed, he advocates sending more troops to that strife-torn land–and by his advocacy of an approach to Iran that could lead to another fruitless war. At the same time, he has shown an admirable willingness to reevalute his views when events have proved them wrong. The question, then, comes down to this: Is John McCain capable of changing his mind about a subject very close to his heart–again?

Judis ends up being fairly inconclusive on this question. My initial instinct when the I read the piece late last week was to say that I didn’t see any particular reason to think McCain was likely to change his mind. Interestingly, however, I was at a Cato event today where two different old-school Republican realists seemed very optimistic that McCain might shift and adopt the much more reasonable views of his friend Chuck Hagel. Again, I don’t really understand what the basis for this belief is, but it’s undoubtedly in the air and something to keep an eye on over the next couple of years.