BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE, MORE WAR. If you're looking for an illustration of Jason Zengerle's point that John McCain continues to enjoy strong support from the MSM, look no further than David Ignatius's column on the maverick in which McCain's opportunism and flip-flopping turn out to be virtues because he's so tortured about his opportunism, and the only real question is whether McCain can develop the cojones to flip-flop enough to win. Even better is this: "The most polarizing issue for the country is the Iraq war. Here, as on other fronts, McCain tries to bridge the extremes." Really? I thought McCain was a die-hard hawk, darling of Bill Kristol, committed to an extremist position to the right of George W. Bush.

Or, as Ignatius puts it: "He has been one of the sharpest critics of the administration's strategy in Iraq, arguing loudly since 2003 that there weren't enough U.S. troops to stabilize the country . . . at the same time, McCain has backed President Bush and the basic U.S. mission in Iraq." So on one extreme, you have people who think the war was a bad idea. On the other extreme, you have people who think the war was a good idea. And "bridging" the extremes is McCain, who thinks the war's such a great idea we should have poured more resources down the toilet. Meanwhile, McCain "still favors putting in more troops, even though he recognizes that is now 'like saying, "I hope it snows in Gila Bend, Arizona."'" This, it seems to me, could be credibly construed as a sign of McCain�s piss-poor strategic judgment, of his basic preference for optics and posturing over real policy, or of the vacuity of his approach to questions or war and peace. But to Ignatius it's yet another sign -- somehow -- of his praiseworthy straight-talkedness.

--Matthew Yglesias

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