A small debate broke out last week over whether Sen. John McCain is relevant in the national political arena ahead of a interview on ABC's "This Week." Chris Cillizza said the Sunday interview would be "must see TV" while Steve Benen said McCain was just another Republican senator with no special influence on how health care would turn out.

Judging from reactions to McCain's interview he surely is relevant. McCain's defended Republican claims that a public option could limit the availability of care given to some people, without saying he believed there are literally "death panels" in the offing. Benen mocked the content of McCain's appearance and statements: "It's a good thing McCain was invited back onto another Sunday morning public affairs show -- his 11th appearance since January, and his second on 'This Week' since May -- or we may have missed insightful policy analysis like this."

But to be sure, Benen didn't ignore McCain after he said last week that McCain's interview was pointless given he's "just another conservative Republican senator, with no real influence, and nothing new to say, who just happens to be invited onto national television all the time...."

Rebuttals Given that McCain had a half-hour television forum to attack Democratic health care plans, it's only fair to give space to two critics of what the senator had to say. The Atlantic's Conor Clarke dealt with McCain and death panels by dissecting his tactics: "(1) Make a preposterous and false claim about a bill. (2) Have the claim disproved. (3) Avoid defending the original claim, but instead observe that the controversy reflects "a legitimate difference of interpretation" about what might happen in the future. Effective opposition in three easy steps!"

John Cole said McCain doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing government health care. McCain had his health care taken care of by the government while serving in the Navy, health insurance paid for by the feds while serving in Congress and his skin cancer was discovered at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Cole wrote. "Good enough for me, but not good enough for thee, I suppose."