Debra J. Saunders

Asked about the rancor in politics, McCain quipped that Congress' approval rating was so low -- FYI, it is 26 percent, lower than Bush's 29 percent -- that the only people who approve of Congress are "paid staffers and blood relatives."

McCain also hit a sweet spot when he asserted that Republicans lost congressional seats in 2006 because of overspending and corruption. "Congress has got to have the will -- the will to say no," McCain said. The many years he spent as a lonely enemy of pork-barrel spending give McCain solid credentials there. Maybe he can turn poor fund-raising into an asset.

McCain also has the rare ability to surprise -- in a universe of rehearsed sound bites. Moderator Tony Perkins, founder of Red Herring, noted that he was reading a book about Churchill and Roosevelt and the effectiveness of their "personal relationships." In that Perkins has deep pockets, the question provided McCain the perfect opportunity to coo about the need for more personal diplomacy.

Instead, McCain said, "This may surprise you, but I think personal diplomacy is the most overrated aspect (in foreign affairs), because leaders have to act in their nation's national security interests." Then, alluding to Bush's silly comment that he looked Russian President Vladimir Putin in the eye and saw Putin's soul, McCain quipped, "When I looked into Putin's eyes, I saw three letters: K, G and B."

I disagree strongly with McCain on immigration, but recognize that McCain was acting from conviction.

"I would rather lose a political campaign than a war," McCain said famously. That makes McCain the right Republican to run against Sen. Hillary Clinton.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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