McCain’s Opening Argument: Meeting With Tyrants

John McCain is slated to speak at 9 p.m. tonight in New Orleans, a necessary “Me too!” to make sure the Democrats don’t start the general election without him. (What Obama could do, if he really wanted to stir things up, would be to speak at 9:10, so the networks are forced to cut McCain off. A bold opening move, but also kind of mean.) Drudge excerpts the speech, including this bit:

Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he’s ready to talk, in person and without conditions, with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn’t traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus, and see for himself the progress he threatens to reverse.

McCain has been making this argument for weeks. It’s only notable here because yesterday Gallup released a poll showing 67 percent of Americans believe “the president of the United States should meet with the leaders of countries that are considered enemies of the United States,” as well as 59 percent who think the president should meet with the president of Iran. The support cuts across party lines, although Democrats and independents are more likely than Republicans to be pro-meeting. (Obligatory caveats: This is just one poll. Polls are often wrong.)

McCain prides himself on ignoring polls—after all, he wouldn’t be the nominee if he let last summer’s numbers guide his decisions—and this survey won’t change his mind. But it should give him pause. It’s one thing to ding Obama on meeting with the enemy; it’s another to make it a major plank of your opening argument when you know most people agree with him. Whether or not “Americans ought to be concerned” about such policies, this poll refutes the suggestion that they are. McCain has five months to convince them.