SO, AT THE GYM they were for some reason running Face the Nation this morning where they usually show CNN or FoxNews. But that means I caught this very interesting statement from John McCain:

SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.

Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: And in–he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?

Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it’s a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it’s a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them–I said, `Did–were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?’ Every one of them said no.

I think the “Bush lied us into war” meme is in trouble, and the GOP pushback seems to be a general effort, not a one-off. And I also think that the reason that so many antiwar people want to move from discussion of whether specific behavior is unpatriotic, to the strawman question of whether any criticism of the war is unpatriotic (note Schieffer’s question — “Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?” — and how it differs from what Bush actually said) is because they know they’re on weak ground on the specifics.

UPDATE: Jay Rockefeller, meanwhile, muffed some questions on a different talking-head show:

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Chris, there’s always the same conversation. You know it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops.

WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren’t you responsible for your vote?


WALLACE: You’re not?

Heh. Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “The patriotism thing is getting a little ridiculous. My impression is that what the left really wants is to make it out of bounds to describe anything as either patriotic or unpatriotic. Thereby making the word, and the concept, obsolete.”

And there’s this: “Let’s hope that McCain’s vigorous defense of Bush is a sign of much more to come.”