Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"John McCain is the prisoner of the right wing, not a maverick."

If you missed John Kerry's fantastic performance on ABC, check out the whole thing:

Here's the transcript.

There are many storylines swirling around how McCain arrived at picking Palin, but they're not mutually exclusive. She was in fact favored by the authoritarian religious right, who McCain sought to court. In one report, Rick Davis was pushing for her, and he's probably been the McCain staffer most intent on pushing the bullshit about Obama and the Democrats being elitists; she's potential bait for ratcheting up the GOP's campaign of spite. (Hey, look at Bush, who needs to be qualified to be president?) Meanwhile, McCain's pick was impulsive and reckless. His campaign is only really vetting her now, after she'd already been picked!

Let me also recommend a few Obsidian Wings posts on the subject, and what they show about McCain. Here's Hilzoy:

The more I learn about this choice, the more it reminds me of Bush's choice of Harriet Miers. I don't think it's at all similar in its political ramifications -- Miers' nomination was seen as a betrayal by social conservatives, the very people who are thrilled by Sarah Palin. But it is similar in the manner in which each was chosen. In each case, the person who made the choice had wanted to pick someone else, someone he regarded as a close friend., In each case, he was told that he couldn't choose that person because it would be politically disastrous. In each case, the person who made the choice responded not by sitting down and thinking about who might fill the role s/he was to be nominated for with distinction, but by making a quick and ill-considered choice of a plainly unqualified person, a choice that seemed like an insult to the office that person was nominated to fill.

Moreover, in each case that choice reflected the fact that the person making it was chafing at the discipline required of him. As far as I can tell, Bush reacts very badly to the idea that his powers as President are limited in any way, or that he owes anything whatsoever to his party or his allies. McCain is similarly undisciplined: he has been willing to do what his party requires of him, up to and including sacrificing his honor and his principles, but he visibly bridles at it, and he seems to be thrilled at the chance to be a maverick again. If that requires picking a vice presidential nominee who is wholly unprepared to take over as President, without doing anything like the vetting a Presidential campaign would normally require, then so be it.

Discipline is not McCain's long suit, and he loves to gamble:

"Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John's life," says John Weaver, McCain's former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. "Taking a chance, playing against the odds." Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. (...)

"He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing," says a Republican who has watched McCain play. "And he just sort of revels in it."

Picking Palin without doing a thorough background check first is of a piece with this: chafing at discipline, playing the odds, liking to bend the rules and get away with it, wanting to be a bad boy. These are not character traits I'd like to see in a President.

But back to Kerry -- as with his great convention speech – where was this guy in 2004? More like this, please.

One last thing – I've argued before that McCain is running mainly on his persona. His actual policies range from the incoherent to the bad, and he often can't describe them, or the factual world, accurately. McCain clearly prizes a self-image as a maverick, an image that many of his surrogates have been trying to sell these past few days, and one that far too many in the press still buy, despite glaring evidence of its absurdity. How can a man be a "maverick" who's voted the Bush line more than 90% of the time? (Oh, and George Bush is a real cowboy, too.) McCain's been getting increasingly prickly, but he's yet to have an all-out temper blowup in public during the campaign. It wouldn't hurt to see it beforehand, but I'd love to see it in one of the debates. I hope Obama reiterates the maverick-voting record point in a debate, just as he did in his acceptance speech. Wouldn't it be great if he needled McCain with the truth until McCain had a "You can't handle the truth!" explosion? The American people deserve to meet the real McCain – a bellicose, uninformed, unwise, immature stooge.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

If he's hoping the Palin pick will reintroduce himself to the American public as a maverick, he's got another thing coming.