George W. Bush and Karl Rove apparently accomplished something the North Vietnamese in five years of captivity could not do--get John McCain to consider switching loyalties.
The story surfaces, just before Super Tuesday, in The Hill today, of McCain's temptation to leave the Republican Party after being savagely smeared by the Bush campaign in the 2000 primaries.
In persuasive detail, it reports the approach of a McCain aide to Congressional Democratic leaders about the possibility of the Arizona Senator emulating Vermont's Jim Jeffords in becoming an Independent and aligning himself with their party.
McCain's disaffection in 2001 was no secret. Fellow Republican Trent Lott criticized him publicly then for keeping "unusual company."
But why does the story surface now? The cui bono is obvious as Mitt Romney tries to persuade Republicans that he is the party's legitimate standard bearer, and Ann Coulter reflects the weird vote by announcing she would back Hillary Clinton before McCain.
There must be déjà vu in all this for the Republican front runner. The rabid Right hated him back then, still does and will stop at nothing to derail him. But Romney, Coulter, Rush Limbaugh et al are no Karl Roves in the art of demonizing those they oppose.
When McCain gets the nomination, rational Republicans and Independents may be drawn to him by what these attacks reveal about his character.