My guess is that after the 2000 election, McCain was understandably at odds with President Bush; like most Senators, he has friends on the other side of the aisle and probably did grumble to them about the Bush administration. In early 2001, the Democrats were desperate to convince a Republican to change parties, and McCain, as the loser to Bush in the 2000 primaries, was a natural choice.
I have two meta-comments. First, I thought this story would get more legs. Not because it is a good story — it is poorly sourced — but because the conservative blogs are supposed to hate John McCain. How have they come down so far? Power Line, Hot Air, Captain’s Quarters, Influence Peddler, Brainster, and David Brody have all come out saying, "no story here." Some have come out more negative: Mitt Romney’s former driver at TownHall, Outside The Beltway, QandO, and Ace of Spades have been more negative. That’s a pretty good day for John McCain on this story.
Perhaps most telling is that Drudge, who hates McCain, has not posted on it at all… Read some more excerpts and thoughts after the jump
Influence Peddler makes an interesting point:
To be honest, I’m not sure how interested I am in knowing more about this. John McCain is who he is. On lots of issues – spending, the military, and some social issues – he clearly is more in line with Republican views than those of the Democrats. On others, he goes his own way. He is mercurial, stubborn, and he has a temper. He will win or lose the Republican nomination based on his long resume and his extensive record on the issues. That includes both good and bad, but right now I don’t think he can be optimistic about his chances.
I suspect that this is really more about Dems trying to stick it to McCain. Brainster says:
This is an attempt by the Democrats to sabotage a Republican presidential candidate, and nothing more. Get this bit: [quotes Daschle]
Let me go out on a limb here and guess that the book does not talk about the meetings being over McCain leaving the GOP.
The media are pushing this story because they are fully invested in the notion that McCain was angry over his supposedly shabby treatment by the Bush campaign.
James Joyner, in an update to the OTB post notes that the Dems are pushing this story though. Michael Crowley from TNR says:
He said McCain ditched the plan after Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords flipped from Republican to Independent, tilting control of the Senate to the Democrats and stealing all the party-switcher thunder. I believe it. It’s a reminder of how much McCain’s profile has changed in the past several years.
In other words, the Dems are pushing this as a story about "John McCain has changed" while also trying to knife him. I buy that. Is it true? Time will tell…