McCain Returns to Battlefield
The Arizona senator is pushing hard for aggressive action in Libya--and forging an unlikely alliance with Obama
During several conversations with John McCain about when to go to war, he told me a story not about Libya, but about Bosnia.During the 1990s, he and Bob Dole were bucking elements in their own party to support Bill Clinton’s push for military intervention in Bosnia. Dole spoke last during the Senate debate, and he described how he had worn a bracelet during the Vietnam War inscribed with the name of a POW named McCain. The onetime Navy pilot was flabbergasted; Dole had never told him.McCain is a man who both bears the scars of war and has thought seriously about warfare, as I write in this week’s NEWSWEEK. He is supporting another Democratic president, this time for the bombing of Libya, but with important caveats. Barack Obama waited too long and, because “I don’t think he feels strongly about American exceptionalism.The same applies to McCain’s support for the Obama surge in Afghanistan. The Arizona Republican says the president also set a withdrawal date for purely political reasons: “to give some kind of comfort to the left wing.” Still, the White House has a strikingly positive view of the senator, given the bitter campaign of 2008.I was struck by McCain’s description of how he bounced back from that defeat, and his view of why the press, so enamored of the Straight Talk Express guy back in 2000, has since fallen out of love with him:When I go after a president of my own party, ‘he’s a maverick.’ When I was going against a president of the other party, arrhh.