Kerry-McCain II

Howard Fineman’s take on this one seems about right:

Truth be told, John McCain really can̢۪t stand George W. Bush, even if he agrees with him on a lot of things, especially Iraq. It̢۪s amusing (for us political reporters) to watch the senator from Arizona struggle with the role fate handed him: riding shotgun on the Bush reelection stagecoach. It̢۪s hard to know whether McCain, deep down, wants to protect his passenger or let the Indians have him. As for Bush, he doesn̢۪t trust McCain, but needs him.

McCain̢۪s rhetorical flirtation with the idea of becoming Sen. John Kerry̢۪s running mate is just the latest act in an ongoing intramural psychodrama that began in 1999, and no amount of common geostrategic purpose in the post-9/11 world can end it. He is a proud man, a fierce fighter, with an ego to match the pride and the ferocity. He wanted the Republican nomination in 2000, wanted it badly, and raged against what he saw as a system rigged against him.

As the season started, McCain surveyed the landscape and saw Bush as a pampered kid being set up in the family business—presidential politics—on the strength of his father’s connections and access to money. McCain railed, in private, about this. He tried to laugh about it, but there was seething anger beneath. McCain was from royalty, too, in his own way—Navy royalty. He was the namesake of a famous father, too, and that smoothed his path to Annapolis, and helped keep him there. But he had paid his dues in the most profound way, with five years of his life in prison cells in Hanoi.

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And now the question of the veepship. It̢۪s true that he and Kerry are close. They are perhaps the leading members of an informal caucus of Vietnam Veterans in the Senate, a fiercely loyal group that tends to eschew party lines whenever possible to express solidarity with one another. It̢۪s also true that, like any politician, McCain likes to make news, likes to be in the limelight, and likes to be asked if he has any interest in being a partner in a national ial ticket.

I don̢۪t think McCain is serious. He̢۪ll stay where he is, but it̢۪s not because he feels any affection for the guy he̢۪s riding with.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.