The Corner

Re: Re: McCain-Hastert

Rod: You’re missing the point and changing the subject. 1) Regarding the meaning of Hastert’s words, the first thing to note is that we cannot assume from the exchange that Hastert knew anything more about McCain’s speech than was contained in the reporter’s question. Hastert’s words are certainly compatible with the uncharitable interpretation: that he was taking a stupid cheap shot at McCain for not knowing the meaning of sacrifice. But it is also compatible with his saying that the answer to the question, where is the sacrifice in this war, is found in military hospital beds. The Dallas Morning News could have provided the actual words from the exchange, instead of the totally misleading context it did provide. (You’d think from the editorial that Hastert had attended, watched, or read McCain’s speech and made a response to it, rather than answering a reporter’s question off-the-cuff.)

2) Has the DMN even been following the fiscal debate it’s editorializing about? Hastert never claimed that McCain was at fault for not supporting higher spending. The fiscal issue on which McCain and the House Republicans have split in recent weeks is the question of budget rules. The House Republicans, like the White House, want a rule that constrains spending. McCain and the Democrats want a rule that constrains spending and tax cuts. That’s not a ridiculous position, and you have every right to adopt it as your own (your own argument tends in that direction). But it can hardly be out of bounds for Hastert to say that McCain is voting with the Democrats when, in fact, he is. Nor is it out of bounds for him to point out that McCain does a fair amount of that. And if you do want to “object” to it, you don’t have to call Hastert’s comment “idiotic” and “offensive,” tell him to “stifle it,” and make a cheap shot of your own at his lack of Vietnam service. And by the way, the editorial comment was that McCain’s argument was “entirely legitimate.” In now saying that maybe McCain is a bit of a hypocrite, you’re shifting ground.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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