“John McCain tried to make amends with David Letterman on Thursday,” said Matea Gold and Maeve Reston in the Los Angeles Times, telling the late-night comedian that he “screwed up” (click here for the CBS video, via YouTube) by canceling a Sept. 24 appearance at the last minute to rush back to Washington. McCain didn’t leave New York until the next day, and Letterman has sharply “mocked” him ever since. The feud strained their “long-amiable relationship,” but it was great for ratings.

Sure, McCain “treasures the image of himself as a fun guy,” but I don’t know why he put up with this abuse, said Dorothy Rabinowitz in The Wall Street Journal. What, really, was his “primal sin”? Ditching the show to focus on the cresting fiscal “events of national consequence, all of them grim”? Letterman’s not funny, he’s egotistical.

He’s also a skillful interviewer, said T. Christopher Kelly in TalkLeft. Letterman’s “blistering cross-examination” got McCain to discuss his ties to Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy—which defanged the Bill Ayers “nonsense.” It was a good skewering, but “aren’t these the kinds of questions that journalists should be asking?”