Monday, September 29, 2008


You may not believe this, given the work I have posted in this space, but I used to have great respect for John McCain. I would go so far as to say I may have even voted for him over John Kerry if he were the GOP's candidate in 2004. I didn't agree with his social conservatism, but he always struck me as a fiscal and foreign policy pragmatist. I thought he would have a better chance of getting things done than Kerry because congressional Republicans would be forced to play nice with one of their own.
In the intervening years, the senator from Arizona has really, really showed his ass. His very conscious effort to transform the media into a hallelujah chorus allowed him pander behind the scenes to all of the religious zealots and lobbyists he railed against on his way to national prominence in 2000. He wrote and spoke incessantly about Honor, so much so that he became honorable without having to define what that word means. He was the Political/Media Establishment's perfect man. He shit gold and spit perfect wisdom, or so it seemed.
McCain's efforts paid off handsomely in this presidential election cycle. The aforementioned chorus carried him when his campaign sputtered in late 2007. Republicans eventually realized he was their only candidate with enough stature to beat Hillary Clinton.
Then came Hurricane Obama. This handsome, self-made young man swept onto the national scene and captured the media's attention, taking away the unquestioned adulation that McCain and his supporters expected to carry him to November.
The public wanted someone new, a leader who recognized that the economy is fundamentally fucked and that the occupation of Iraq was a huge mistake; in other words, a candidate who stands for everything McCain doesn't.
So McCain did the only thing he could do: he gave up any pretenses of nobility or honesty and bared his fangs. He picked a self righteous dimwit for his running mate and committed to bald-faced lying on a daily basis. He foresook everything he claimed to believe in.
Johnathan Chait of The New Republic sums it up best:
"The pattern here is perfectly clear. McCain has contempt for anybody who stands between him and the presidency. McCain views himself as the ultimate patriot. He loves his country so much that he cannot let it fall into the hands of an unworthy rival. (They all turn out to be unworthy.) Viewed in this way, doing whatever it takes to win is not an act of selfishness but an act of patriotism. McCain tells lies every day and authorizes lying on his behalf, and he probably knows it. But I would guess--and, again, guessing is all we can do--that in his mind he is acting honorably. As he might put it, there is a bigger truth out there."
In other words, the end justifies the means. McCain likes to call himself a maverick. He used to brag about standing up to clowns like Donald Rumsfeld. In his desperation to win the presidency, he has shown himself to be no better.

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