McCain Does a “Full Cheney”

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Over at Slate, our former TIME colleague John Dickerson writes that John McCain’s speech today may indeed have been a turning point:

What’s new here is obviously not McCain’s unhedged support for the war. He’s talked about that at length. What makes this speech different is the full-force, no-caveats attack on his opponents. It went beyond attacking policy inconsistencies—such as the fact that Democrats voted to confirm Gen. David Petraeus as Iraqi commander but against his plan for action—or raising questions about how opponents of the war would deal with the chaos following an American withdrawal. It repeatedly questioned not just their views but their motives, ending with a moving story about a heroic Navy SEAL officer whose bravery McCain juxtaposes with those seeking “temporary political advantage.”

Dickerson argues that McCain goes even farther than President Bush and Vice President Cheney in attacking not just the arguments but the character of those who disagree with him:

When it comes to talking about his political opponents, though, there are no caveats. Even President Bush, not a man known for seeing the world in shades of gray, regularly throws a line into his Iraq speeches to the effect that while he disagrees with Democrats and their policies, he doesn’t question their motivations. McCain not only questions, he draws a conclusion. Democrats are motivated not by their beliefs and judgment but by sheer, cynical politics. (This goes further than Cheney, who explained to Rush Limbaugh about Democrats: “I don’t want to question everybody’s motives.”)