It turns out that McCain had the good fortune to be in Colombia the very day that the country had its best news in years. In a sophisticated operation, and without a shot fired, Colombian commandos freed 15 hostages held for years by the FARC guerrillas. The 15 included three Americans, along with Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician who had been held for six years.
The timing might lead one to think it was not coincidental. However, it's hard to see how the timing really benefits McCain. McCain acknowledged that he was briefed on the operation by Uribe last night, but I have no reason to doubt he is sincere with his comments:
"These are very high-risk operations," McCain said, adding that he did not know the rescue was being put together before deciding to visit Colombia. "I would remind you that these things require incredibly long planning and coordination, et cetera. There's no way possible that it could have had anything to do with our visit that I could imagine. . . . It's a very happy moment."On the other hand, his press friends at NBC didn't hesitate to spin this as a positive event for McCain:
The timing didn't hurt the Republican presidential candidate, who has long touted his foreign policy experience as being much stronger than that of Democratic rival Barack Obama.And Lieberman, who was accompanying McCain, wasn't shy about trying to take advantage of the situation:
"I think it was a sign of confidence of President Uribe and the defense minister in Senator McCain — and maybe in the two of us — that they were prepared to share this information last night, which was highly classified, " Lieberman said.Anyway, I'm watching the news conference with Uribe live right now where he, his defense minister, and his armed forces chief are describing the operation. It's very funny to my gringo ears how informal the session is; it has the tone of a chat with Oprah and friends!