Ryan Lizza observes the “two sides of McCain” in a long and thoughtful piece that is much about the media’s love for Senator John McCain as it is about Mr. McCain himself:
There is the principled McCain, who, more than any other candidate running for President this year, has a record of sticking to a position even when it puts his political future at risk. In this campaign, his positions on the surge and on immigration (he supported a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for illegals) almost sank him. But there is also the political McCain, who knows that a reputation for standing on principle is a valuable commodity, though only if it’s well advertised. If it takes flogging a dodgy quote to emphasize a larger truth about your own character, then so be it.
That seems to be as good of a preview as any of what the public will have to watch for in the coming months. I didn’t care for Governor Mitt Romney – and I was too focused on the Democratic primaries to care much about the Republican race for a few weeks there where the political McCain came barging onto the political scene, repeatedly using a fabricated point to make the case against Mr. Romney. In this instance, if not previously in his career, Mr. McCain demonstrated a willingness to go for the body blow, to kick a candidate when he was down, and to make sure his opponent wouldn’t be able to make a comeback in time for the bell. Politics is a contact sport, so I don’t begrudge Mr. McCain that.
But it’s worth noticing…and it’s also worth noting that Mr. McCain used an extreme distortion of his opponent’s position repeatedly and with almost Clintonian obtuseness.