Via Matt Lewis, here’s Maverick once again demonstrating that “cordial relationship” in politico-speak means “two people who can’t publicly admit to hating each other but obviously do.”
And it’s a cheap shot. Cruz’s point yesterday at CPAC was that Dole, McCain, and Romney lost because they weren’t conservative enough. That’s not because they’re gutless — he said specifically that they were “good” and “decent” men — but because they’re not committed, full-throated ideologues, even less so when they’re fighting for purple states in a national election. We can debate whether that’s true but there’s nothing offensive in raising the subject. I assure you, in McCain’s circle, it’s received wisdom that Cruz and Rand Paul are way too ideological to beat Hillary. Nothing offensive about that theory either. McCain, though, can’t resist seizing on Cruz’s point as an opportunity to demagogue him as being somehow contemptuous of military service. Evidently, if you think Bob Dole would have done better against Clinton by drawing a more vivid philosophical contrast, you’re accusing a war hero of cowardice. That’s a very Maverick-y take, given that McCain’s own campaign six years ago heavily emphasized biography over ideology. It still galls him, I’m sure, that a guy who spent years suffering for his country in the Hanoi Hilton lost to the community organizer turned law prof. I can sympathize with that, but election outcomes aren’t an award for heroism. And disgruntlement over that fact is no license to distort Cruz’s point in order to score a cheap point on him.
And by the way, despite what he says, McCain obviously takes great offense that he himself was included in the triad named by Cruz. He’s playing it off like he’s offended only on Dole’s behalf because that makes him seem magnanimous, especially given Dole’s age and the fact that he’s no longer part of the political fray. Everything he says here, though, logically applies just as much to him. If you think it’s bad form per se to accuse a veteran of being a RINO, regardless of how he votes in Congress or what positions he takes on the stump, then you’re on Team Mav. If not, not. Exit question: If you want to challenge Cruz on this point, why not knock the fact that it’s easy for a red-stater to be myopic about it?