David Sanger at the NY Times is one of those top-level reporters who often willingly carries water for the Bush administration - promulgating "unofficially official" leaks, for instance - in order to preserve his precious access. It appears that he's willing to do the same for the McCain campaign.
Hidden from view during much of the Republican convention here, a fierce struggle has been under way for the foreign policy heart of John McCain.
It centers on the deep schism inside the Republican Party over how to engage with the rest of the world, a running debate that has consumed different wings of the party and the Bush White House for the past seven and a half years. All week here, it was an undercurrent running just beneath the message of party unity and experience that Mr. McCain emphasized in his acceptance speech on Thursday night.
On Thursday night, Republicans here got few hints about whether Mr. McCain will appeal to the base by leaning toward the more confrontational, go-it-alone approach of President Bush’s first term, or whether he will adopt the somewhat chastened, let’s-negotiate tone of the second term, which has driven may of the hawks to despair.
Umm...bulls**t. It's been clear to most for some time now that the neocons won the battle. His chief foreign policy advisor is Randy Scheunemann ferchissakes!
Scheunemann told the New York Sun that despite a number of “realists” such as Brent Scowcroft among McCain’s other foreign policy advisors, his own influence, as well as that of other like-minded advisers like William Kristol and Robert Kagan, has been paramount. "I don't think, given where John has been for the last four or five years on the Iraq War and foreign policy issues, anyone would mistake Scowcroft for a close adviser," Scheunemann said, adding that even if Scowcroft were close, McCain "was not taking the advice.”
And alongside Randy stand his fellow PNACers R. James Woolsey, William Kristol and Robert Kagan.
I know that Sanger is just a channel - and that Mccain's messagers want the elecorate to be uncertain about whether he's a neoconservative warmonger himself (after his "Bomb iran" musical venture) - but this passes beyond suspension of disbelief.
If you needed another hint:
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is among several national security experts helping brief Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on foreign policy issues as she prepares to hit the campaign trail while cramming for a debate with her Democratic opponent...The McCain campaign has tapped Stephen E. Biegun, the national security adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to be Palin's principal foreign policy adviser.
Biegun is admittedly what passes for a "realist" in McCain's camp - he was until recently vice president of International Governmental Affairs for Ford Motor Company (nice bit of revolving-door back scratching, there) and was Executive Secretary of Rice's National Security Council in the two years leading up to the invasion of Iraq. A dove, he isn't. And Palin just doesn't strike me as the "realist" sort.
But Lieberman does say Palin will be neocon-ready if the ageing McCain should fail to see out a whole term.
(Previously published in a slightly different form at Newshoggers)