So according to the NYT's David Sanger, "a fierce struggle has been under way for the foreign policy heart of John McCain." Sanger is referring to the debate between the neocon and the realist wings of the Republican Party, although for some reason he doesn't use those words. His portrait of McCain's foreign-policy thinking would be very interesting if it weren't so completely deceptive.

Look at who McCain's top foreign-policy advisor is. Look at his reflexively bellicose response to the Russa/Georgia flare-up. Look at his unwavering support for the Iraq War and his grandiose definition of victory there. Look at his disdain for the idea of negotiation with Iran, Syria, North Korea -- countries with whom even the Bush administration has opened lines of communication.

Now name one foreign-policy situation -- just one -- since Sept. 11, 2001 on which John McCain has taken the realist position. (An anonymous McCain adviser cites the senator's laudable role in the normalization of relations with Vietnam -- an effort that peaked in January, 1993.)

Sanger writes that McCain "defies easy categorization. His threat to throw Russia out of the Group of Eight industrial nations went far beyond anything Mr. Bush has said, and he has often sounded more hard line than Mr. Bush about doing whatever it takes to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." This is like saying that Jesse Helms "defied easy categorization" because he opposed school integration, the Civil Rights Act, and Martin Luther King Day. McCain's foreign policy, in fact, invites easy characterization, and only the shreds of his reputation as a "maverick" could lead any journalist to think otherwise.