Friday, August 01, 2008

John McCain's Lost Soul

John McCain has always been my favorite Republican. Admittedly, that’s not saying much.

It has nothing to do with his political positions (he is almost always wrong) or occasional attempts to work with Democrats to get some things done once in a while. Unlike what we have come to expect from the slash-and-burn tactics of the sad Gingrich/Bush era, that’s what people of both parties are supposed to do once in a while. It’s not even his compelling personal story as a Vietnam POW; there are hundreds of POWs who did not insist on being president because of their long ordeal.

No, the thing I liked about John McCain was his sense of humor. In staged settings with the right lines, his eyes brighten, his timing is impeccable and he manages to have just the right level of self-deprecation while maintaining a happy dignity. There are very few politicians that have (intentionally) made me laugh out loud. It’s a gift you can’t fake, and McCain had it.

But now, McCain is about as funny that other comic talent who lost it all when he sold out to the Dark Side, radio wing-nut Dennis Miller (wanna buy gold or a steel building? Dennis is your man!). McCain claimed that the ugly, childish ad trotted out by his campaign today – repeating the right-wing talking-point, mocking Obama for supposedly being messianic, complete with Heston-as-Moses parting the Red Sea – was all in some sort of twisted jest. “We were having some fun with our supporters,” said McCain. Forgetting for a moment that McCain thinks it’s OK to entertain his troops with public ridicule of his opponent (can we run footage of McCain in the Hanoi Hilton and have a narrator speculate that he was already designing his political ambitions? Would we? Of course not), what kind of “supporters” would think it’s funny? Oh, yeah, I just wrote about this messiah nonsense on Monday.

Was the other ad released this week a joke, too? You know, the one where footage of Obama’s Berlin speech (and “o-bam-a” chants not from Berlin) are intertwined with pictures of celebrity nightmares Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton. Some have speculated that the juxtaposition of the two famous white women and the famous black man is racist (like the Harold Ford ad in Tennessee); all those who think I see racism in everything Republican, please note that I do not see it here. Spears and Hilton (regardless of how Hilton gained her initial, er, notoriety) are too damaged to elude forbidden sexual energy like the “call me” model in the Ford ad. The problem with the celebrity ad is that Obama is trivalized for the sin of his own notoriety, the bulk of which he has very little to do with. It's like blaming McCain because the media (still) sucks up to him. Like he should talk.

And how about McCain being sent out by his handlers to pretend he was offended that Obama had “played the race card” by saying something innocuous he has said a dozen times about not looking like the old guys on dollar bills? Talk about a joke. But this is the game they are playing. And, contrary to his pledge to play nice and let his surrogates do the dirty work, McCain jumped in this week with both feet.

Back more than a year ago when he started running, McCain looked like he was wearing a straight jacket, literally and figuratively. Even Republicans – not known for demanding much of their candidates – didn’t like this empty shell of his former self that someone was filling with bad lines and bad ideas. He almost dropped out of the race. Then he fired everyone (well, he was broke) and went back to his instincts, becoming the GOP candidate by default out of a miserable field of hacks and losers. The hard-line Republicans gave him some slack until he became the presumptive nominee. Now, he’s back in the straight-jacket, saying things he doesn’t believe to GOP regulars he can’t stand. His sense of humor also went out the door – who can laugh when you feel that much like crying?

Although Obama’s two books have been dissected backward and forward by the media, Robert Kaiser at the Washington Post actually sat down and read all five of McCain’s “as told to” books (Obama personally wrote his), looking for clues into the “curious mind of John McCain”. Kaiser relates McCain’s back-and-forth positions on the Confederate flag flying over the statehouse in South Carolina during his 2000 campaign against Junior Bush. He was against it, then he was for it, then he admitted in his book years later that he really was against the flag flying over the SC capitol, but lied about it for the short term political advantage. Writes Kaiser:
  • "I had promised to tell the truth no matter what," McCain wrote in the book. "When I broke it, I had not just been dishonest, I had been a coward, and I had severed my own interests from my country's. That was what made the lie unforgivable."

Flash forward to 2008, and here we go again. If McCain felt his soul slip into cowardice then, how do you think he feels now, as he lets his Rovian henchman talk him into personally engaging in mocking ridicule of an opponent he pretends to respect and pledged to honor during the campaign? This is one thing he can’t blame on his famous purple rage – these personal attacks he is conducting are fully scripted, poll-tested affairs. Is the presidency really worth it for him to jettison his hard-won reputation for “straight talk” (the Keating Five, notwithstanding)?

Well, there is at least one positive part of McCain stepping away from his own campaign and letting the goons fill his empty suit. Now, it doesn't matter that McCain hates Mitt Romney's guts (another reason to like him) -- New McCain can now go ahead, suck it up, and pick him for his running mate. I really hope he does -- I miss the smarmy Captain Underpants and would love to have him back on the trail, hopefully playing the Bob Dole hitman role from 1976. Now that would be funny.

But, I guess today’s reaction tells us that McCain is going to explain away his excesses in the future by saying that it was all some kind of joke. It might be to somebody, but it - and he - is not funny anymore.


Anonymous said...

Mikey, your a moronic loser, but you know that already because you live the life of a loser, you expect government to give you and your liberal cockroaches a handout, you degrade the majority of hardworking Americans who believe in personel responsibility and hardwork, they don't want freebies and don't expect those that succeed to be penalized for their hardwork, this is America and not a socialist country that penalizes hardwork for the "collective" good of the lazy and moronic (aka. Liberal welfare class) In this country you can be poor, and with a little hardwork and SELF determination can work your way out of poverty, the great "welfare reform" policies of the liberals have destroyed a whole generation of people who now have become reliant on government, the greatest FAILURE of the 60's liberal democrat adgenda. You rip on McCain because he is genuine and real compared to the completely fake and transparent Kerry, and equally assine hussien Obama. You know you are wrong and I know you know that America will reject Hussien in favor of McCain.

Mike Plaisted said...

Thanks again for sharing your insightful discussion of the important issues in this campaign, Anony. I look forward to hearing more as you and other nut-bags flail against the winds of change.

Anonymous said...

winds of change? Can you say fillabuster? Socialism in this country will never happen, we have the Supreme Court to prevent that from happening!!!(Just to cut off another stupid rant, learn election law before disparaging another of Bushes greatest legacy) The only nut bag is you moron, I am just a hard working mainstream American, expressing the MAJORITY opinion, and happily berating, disparaging, the whacked out fringe left wing moonbat cut and run cowards like yourself.

Other Side said...

Come on anonymous. You can do better. Tell us what you really think.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately I'm a different anony than the one above but one thing that I am mystified about and I am hoping counselor Plaisted could answer for me.

With the seemingly never-ending love fest that is being heaped upon by traditional media (NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, etc) how can Obama not crack 50% in any poll? As much as you don't want to admit it, Obama is a rock star, he is loved, worshipped, and treated with kid gloves. Usually by this time in a presidential election cycle the democrat is up by nearly 10% in national polls. But right now it's a dead-heat. How can Obama not be absolutely crushing the boring entity that is John McCain? I hope this keeps the DNC and Obama's campaign up at night because I sure would be if I was a supporter of Him.

Anonymous said...

That's an easy one, Anonymous #2.

Your characterization that Obama is treated with "kid gloves" is demonstrably false.

While Obama is certainly getting more media coverage (I mean, even you must agree that a round-the-world tour is certainly more news-worthy than McCain shopping for cheese), he's also getting a lot more negative media coverage, so says The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Over the first 6 weeks of the campaign, "...when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative. Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative."

Over the past month McCain has made numerous "gaffes" that barely got a mention anywhere. But can you imagine the uproar if Obama had "joked" that exporting cigarettes to Iran might be a good way to kill them? Or if Obama had repeatedly mixed up Shia and Sunni? Or if one of Obama's chief campaign advisers had said that America was a "nation of whiners." Those "scandals" would be the lead story on every newscast.

So, to answer your question, the race is as close as it is now because it is McCain who is being treated with kid gloves by the media.

- Evan

Anonymous said...

PIMP LOL, yes, you're right Evan, it's the ultra-conservative mainstream media that is causing Obama's poll numbers to not get to/go above 50%. Don't blame the candidate and his flaws, it's the media's fault. The media who is manipulating the minds of those typical white people and gun/religion-clinging voters.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you're the one who brought up the media and made the false assertion that Obama had been treated with "kid gloves." I just refuted that. The numbers don't lie.

- Evan

Anonymous said...

Can you honestly sit there with a straight face and say that the media is not in love with Obama and his candidacy and that they instead are in the bag for McCain? Wow.

Anonymous said...

You mean the same media that John McCain calls his "base" and that he routinely has over for backyard barbecues? That media?

But, really, I'm not saying anything. The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University is (and you guys just loved the CMPA during the 2006 midterms when they were supporting your media bias claims).

So, if you'd like to offer a refutation of their findings that goes beyond "nu-uh!" then I'd be happy to listen.


progressivefiction said...


I agree with your assessment on McCain. Frankly, the only way I see McCain winning is if tries to run his campaign the way he did in 2000.

Anonymous said...

I guess that makes me Anonymous III
"This's personal!"

Through all the days of W, Rumsfeld, and Chenney, I had to respect McCain. Here was a man who put his money (more precious to a Republican than life) where his mouth was, served his country, survived torture, and came back his own man, or so it seemed.

When I read the original post, I felt I could have written it myself, only with a few more "dees, dems and dozes," thrown in for bad vocabulary.

How can a man, once tortured in a finally meaningless war, suddenly decide that he will change his position on torture?

It's like a man changing his sexual preferance from blondes to grizzly bears. It simply does not happen. One is left to assume that McCain is saying what he feels he must to energize his base.

If so base a core belief can be compromised, what is left of McCain to believe?

Anonymous said...

Looks like Obama was the first to compare his celebrity to that of Paris Hilton, not McCain:

tommcmahon said...

Yeah, give me that side-splitting laff-a-minute Al Franken. Funniest guy since Shecky Greene. said...

Interesting that you like McCain. I think he's more dangerous than Clinton(s). If he'll see what he pulls. It won't be funny.