Mccain Concedes He's A Patriot

by Jonathan Chait | September 5, 2008

The Washington Post reports today:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) conceded this week that McCain knew that his support both for the war and for the flow of additional troops he said was necessary for victory could doom his prospects in the election.

"Calling for more troops to be sent to Iraq was one of the most unpopular things John McCain could have done," Graham said. "Some said it was political suicide. But you know what? It was the right thing to do."

Conceded? A concession is when you say something that's against your interests or makes you look bad. Saying that your candidate took an unpopular position because he thought it was right does not make him look bad. So "conceded" does not apply here. (Unless the Post wants to start printing sentences like, "Barack Obama today conceded that he loves America and wants to bring needed change to Washington.") The proper term here is "boast."

On top of that, Graham's boast, though the media has repeated it endlessly for months, is not even true. Back in 2006, McCain was still anathema to most of the party base and elite. He needed to find issues of agreement with the administration. The surge was perfectly suited for that end. Sure, it carried somke risk of hurting McCain in a general election, but McCain's issue was finding a way to get nominated. After that, he could always finesse the surge if it wasn't working, or rely on his war hero/maverick image.

I'm not saying McCain took up the surge for political reasons. Surely he believed in it. But this wa a case where his beliefs dovetailed perfectly with his political interests. His persuasion of the political press corps is a triumph of spin.

--Jonathan Chait

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/mccain-concedes-hes-patriot