KERRY-McCAIN YET AGAIN….In an effort to annoy my readers on this subject as much as possible, here’s another installment of the “Kerry-McCain 2004” soap opera, prompted by this post from Mark Kleiman.

As it happens, I’m not really quite the fan of a Kerry-McCain ticket that Mark supposes (McCain may have a cuddly public image these days, but the reality is that he’s a pretty hard-ass conservative), but I do think it’s an intriguing idea to bat around. Mark points out the most appealing reason:

The messages would be “National unity to face a dangerous world” and “Healing partisan division.” There’s precedent, of course: Lincoln/Johnson in 1864. That didn’t work out so well in the long run, of course (if McCain were Vice-President, I’d vote for a big increase in the Secret Service budget), but it was still better than electing McClellan.

That’s one way of looking at it, and it’s a way that I like. However, there’s another way of looking at it, which is that it’s a tacit admission that (a) Kerry can’t win unless he teams up with a Republican, and (b) the only way to get credibility on national security is to co-opt McCain.

So the question is: which of these messages would get sent? Would Kerry look like a “national unity” candidate ready to put partisan squabbling behind, or would he look like a weakling who doesn’t trust the policies of his own party? Hard to say.

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