Noah Millman sketches out a scenario in which John McCain, like Ariel Sharon, upon being confronted with the burdens of office tempers his views in a more pragmatic direction and surprises people. It definitely could happen. Heck, maybe McCain could be the Nixon who goes to Teheran. But as Millman says it’s “a fairly audacious hope, given how McCain has positioned himself over the past decade.”
And, indeed, while there’s a general unpredictability about these things the safest assumption seems to me to be that McCain roughly believes what he’s been saying all this time. It’s not as if he’s a guy with a lifelong passion for economic policy who started imitating Bush’s lines when he decided to run for President. He’s in the military, then he’s dispatched by the military to represent their interests in congress, then he’s a member of congress and senator himself who’s always been interested in military issues who was “talking like Bush” before Bush was talking like Bush. In other words, he’s probably thought this all through and if he wins intends to govern accordingly. Maybe not. We can have hope. But I wouldn’t count on him reversing course.