The Daily Four: My Way, or The Highway

1. Barack Obama further consolidates control within his campaign; per Ben Smith, his national finance chair is urging major donors not to contribute money to outside 527s; the good: one message is easier to control. the bad: if David Axelrod and David Plouffe are wrong about the message, then Democrats are in trouble.

2. The American Leadership Project -- a pro-Clinton 527 -- is airing this positive ad in Oregon on Clinton's behalf.

3. In the New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai has a timely, 8000 word exposition about John McCain's foreign policy doctrine. Here's the best part:

I ARRANGED TO TALK with McCain during the last week of April, before a fund-raising event at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Tampa. When he strode, an hour late, into the conference room his campaign had reserved, his gait was rushed and purposeful and his manner decidedly businesslike. Having survived the sadism of the Vietcong and, more recently, skin cancer, McCain these days shows the wear of his 71 years. His face is more topographically interesting than it was when he first ran for president eight years ago, the skin folding into small craters and valleys as it runs into his neckline. His eyes look warier and less mischievous than they did back then. You can imagine, looking at him, how McCain spent much of these last few years: beseeching and indulging Republican power brokers, many of whom he does not like, all the while tolerating their lectures, bridling his infamous temper, keeping the irritation pent up. Perhaps repression exacts its cost.

Sitting down at the end of a long granite table, he greeted me warmly, and then, before I could ask a question or even introduce the subject at hand, he dove headlong into a five-minute soliloquy. He told me that he had just driven in from the airport on Eisenhower Boulevard, and that Eisenhower was a man he very much admired, because Eisenhower understood the costs of war and strove to keep America out of it. He then made reference to a “rather hysterical” column by Fareed Zakaria in that morning’s Washington Post about McCain’s views on foreign policy. His voice was tight and measured.

“I’ve seen other stories and I’ve seen comments about my national-security speech,” McCain said, referring to an address he gave in Los Angeles a few weeks earlier. “The story line is as follows: ‘McCain’s not the same McCain. He’s changed, and now he’s become a hawk, and he is dramatically different from what he was.’ ” He recited this narrative as if repeating the nonsensical words of dullards. “And anybody is free to write whatever they want and form whatever opinions they want to form. But facts are facts. And the fact is that I know war, and I know the tragedy of war. And no one hates war more than veterans.”

From here, McCain went on to list for me some of the military actions he supported (Grenada, Panama) and some that he opposed (Beirut, Somalia). He had always followed the same set of values, he said, grounded in the premise that all people, not just Americans, were created equal and had inalienable rights. And when America could intervene militarily to further those values around the world without needless sacrifice in lives and money, he was all for it, and where we couldn’t, he was not, and there was nothing extreme about that.

“As far as people who advise me,” McCain went on, though I still hadn’t asked a question, “probably one of my most trusted advisers for the last 30 years is Henry Kissinger, not known as a hawk or a neocon.” McCain infused the word with sarcasm. “I also remember the days when Ronald Reagan was portrayed as a hawk and a neocon. I remember the near hysteria in response to his ‘tear down this wall.’ I remember the ‘Oh, you can’t do that, when you call the Soviets an evil empire.’ I remember all those things. Same people who are now saying — ” He stopped himself midsentence, then began again. “I’m always open to new ideas and new thoughts, but my principles were grounded many years ago in places like the National War College and other places where I have learned and studied and talked to people I admire and respect.

“So,” McCain said finally, “with that preface, I’d be glad to answer any questions you might have, and again, it’s always good to be with you.”

4. Steve Rosenthal, a top Democratic operative and one of the brains behind the Atlas Project, has produced a new web video about Sen. John McCain's lack of youthfulness.