McCain's Integrity, Rove's Opening


Will McCain's opposition to torture hurt his chances for the Republican nomination? If the GOP defines itself as the party of torture, then it may be true. Much will depend on the rumors of some kind of compromise on the Hill. Still, Rove may counsel best to avoid a deal, and use the issue in the campaign. I'm struck by the Gallup uptick in Bush's ratings. I'm not sure you should place any real trust in a single poll, and broader measures show much less movement. But I do think that the fast-evolving base of the GOP is likely to be roused by the promise of torturing terror suspects, and that running on Guantanamo Bay may make sense if you want to rile up these people - and, boy, do they need riling.

I understand Rove has postponed using 9/11 families against the Geneva Convention - he'll wait till later in the campaign to do that, if it becomes necessary. But make no mistake: Rove isn't going to duck the torture issue. He's going to brandish it. McCain, Graham, Warner: these men represent the old Republican party, not the new pro-torture, Christianist, Jacksonian base. Rove would love to isolate the old, decent guards from the Southern base and find a candidate to continue the Bush legacy. And this may be his opportunity.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)