To me, John McCain's habit of switching positions on many issues over the years makes it difficult to tell what, if anything, he really thinks about these matters. It seems, though, that a superior journalist like Nicholas Kristof gets to write for The New York Times op-ed page because he does have a solid read on what McCain really believes. What reportorial technique did he use to ferret out the truth? Telepathy! Thus, Kristof is sure that "With the arrival of the primaries, he has moved to the right on social issues and pretended to be more conservative than he is." Basically, "McCain truly has principles that he bends or breaks out of desperation and with distaste." How does Kristof know this? Telepathy! Then Kristof runs down the considerable evidence that McCain is an enormous jerk and concludes that:
McCain himself would probably acknowledge every one of these flaws, and he is a rare politician with the courage not just to follow the crowd but also to lead it. It is refreshing to see that courage rewarded by voters.
McCain himself would acknowledge these flaws if what? If he wasn't running for President? What kind of courage is that? I have know idea under which circumstances, if ever, McCain would acknowledge flaws that he has not, in fact, acknowledged. But the overwhelmingly relevant fact about McCain's flaws would seem to me to be their existence. Acknowledging flaws, after all, doesn't make them go away. And of course McCain hasn't even acknowledged them! But if things were different, he would, which would be courageous, so we should be glad McCain is getting close to the White House.