The first thing that I would like to take a look at is the idea that Senator McCain should be elected based on the fact that he was a war hero and a POW. While I certainly honor the service of all of our military men and women, I question the sincerity of the Republican Party's "newly found" deference to Senator McCain on this subject.
I would like to have a Republican explain to me why this should be so important to voters in 2008, when it was so unimportant to the Republicans in 2000. In 2000 the Republicans passed over John McCain and chose George W. Bush (who was--to state it as kindly as I can--NOT a war hero). In fact, we saw the first example of what came to be called "Swiftboating", being used against McCain, with innuendos about possible brainwashing and references to the "Manchurian Candidate" effectively turning his war record and POW status against him (much as was done later by Bush supporters attacking the war record of John Kerry). Yet today we are constantly encouraged by these same Republicans to vote for McCain based on the very same war record and POW status that they rejected (and in some quarters reviled) in 2000. McCain's war record did not improve in the interval between these two elections. So, there must be another factor involved.
One thing that did change between these two elections is McCain's stated feelings about the Religious Right. In 2000, he stated:
"Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right."
There is, indeed, a great chasm between the John McCain who called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, "Agents of intolerance," and the John McCain of today who can be found courting the most radical members of the Religious Right. As was stated in the New York Times:
"To make up for a history of conflict with the Christian conservative wing of his party, Mr. McCain has in some ways gone further than Mr. Bush to reassure the right of his intentions, even at the risk of spooking more moderate voters."
Perhaps it is Senator McCain's recent pandering to the Religious Right that has been the true cause of the Republican's newly found reverence for his war record and POW status. However, since the Republicans certainly did not consider it to be a litmus test for qualifying for the Presidency in 2000, I find it to be more than just a little disingenuous for them to try to sell this idea in 2008.
To paraphrase an old line: It's the issues, stupid!