I never trusted John McCain because he never struck me as stable or principled – plus his grasp of ideas and facts fluctuated like glare off water. My judgment focused not on his positions per se, nor successful charade to seem less Republican than his rightwing voting record proves. For years, he parlayed his mavericky shtick, though on a pinhead of issues, until caving hard to extremist leverage, fully visible this season.
Never has he wavered from shoot-first, jingoistic belligerence, using one bad neo-con war to launch another, and another. This never-say-die brawler would refight (and lose) Vietnam again. Still, it made sense that he took the GOP nomination, for those goofy rivals made McCain look nearly-normal: the craven panderer Romney or heart-felt fundamentalist Huckabee, the ex-minister more deep-fried, born-again than W. ever was.
McCain was a temp iconoclast only in contrast to slavish rightwingers, yet he could be refreshingly blunt and funny, with SNL displaying tip-top comic timing. He’s still less objectionable than Sycophant Palin, who magnifies every delusional Dick Cheney sound-bite with reactionary Rapture wrappings. Are we to believe Rapturous Cheneyism is the best springboard for national politics?
Considering 2/3’s of voters judge her “unqualified” to be president (not just “backassward” on issues, her term), Palin will cement McCain’s most perfidious legacy – the most reckless V.P. pick, bar none. Of late, Palin’s transformation, from ignorant, backwater governor to ignorant, backwater celebrity hustler, draws Tim Eagan’s dire parallel with the slickest grifters around:
Palin and [John] Edwards are two of an American archetype, opportunists playing to outrage while taking care of themselves. They are both attractive . . . [and] can both hold an audience without saying anything of substance, or even making sense . . . Political grifters, the smart ones, usually get out while the getting’s good. It’s always about timing: the trick is finding the mark, before the mark finds you.
Read Palin’s incoherent Tea Party Speech, or compelling commitments like “I won’t close a door that perhaps could be open for me in the future,” and tell me Shakespeare didn’t capture being “full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.”
McCain, Raging on the Heath
Just last week, McCain spit out not just resentment voters somehow elected the wrong guy. He shifted from once media-friendly jokester to full-fledged obstructionist spewing rancor and hypocrisy. Across the boards flip-flopping demolished any maverick echoes, as he lurched rightward to counter an extremist primary threat. Most telling was his hypocritical explosion against top brass who now oppose “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Obliterating his own countless assurances he’d follow Pentagon changes towards gay rights, McCain shocked Congress by railing against military powers he once exalted.
Equally revealing, notable for lacking passion, was instant impotence when his life-time triumph, McCain-Feingold, was shredded by a Supreme Court on steroids. Mr. Campaign Reform appeared shellshocked: “I don’t think there’s much that can be done, to tell you the truth. It is what it is …The Supreme Court has spoken. I respect their decision.” Really? More patriotic Americans instantly proposed numerous fixes.
How the once mighty Samson, the great warrior bereft of bravery, can’t now even envision one challenge to the worst judicial decision in our lifetime. More deserter than maverick, McCain sells out to rightwing soundbites by abandoning not just the field of battle but his career honor and principle. Is craziness not raging when you should listen and then shriveling up when you should act?
Flawed as pilot and husband
What first disturbed me was how McCain’s character flaws matched his military screw-ups, the dare-devil notorious for multiple crashes. A dreadful student turned volatile flyboy, he first cheated on, then callously dumped his cancer-stricken first wife for a super-rich upgrade (who bankrolled his first Congressional win). War heroes are few and far between, yet hard to miss were nagging deviations of mind and temper, whether from early torture or aging, or both. Unscripted, McCain’s responses have been scattered and flippantly self-indulgent, evinced by a legion of campaign gaffes. His Senate reputation reinforced the belligerent loner, whose explosive temper matched long-held grudges.
Thus, his erratic ’08 race, inept, full of desperation and gimmickry, aside from Palin. His ultimate implosion (fueled by disastrous talk of “suspending” the campaign) came by gravitating to his least compelling pitches, especially immense debate focus on Joe the Plumber. “We are all Joe the Plumber,” McCain crowed weakly, invoking comic Ron White’s one-liner about both candidate and subject, “You can’t fix stupid.”
As McCain devolved into Joe the Plumber, the poised, educated Obama was cleaning his clock, proving few president hopefuls match him as orator or cheerleader. When brains and know-how mattered, McCain went dumb and dumber. Two years later, the gimmicks resound, with zero kinship between the forgotten plumber and senator married to $100 million dollars who owns seven, or is it eight houses he couldn’t keep track of? Now, embittered, fury drives frustration – and the prospect of forced retirement.
Obama, heroic vs. McCainiac?
So, doesn’t unstable McCain make Obama look better? Does Obama’s highly mixed performance, especially on health reform and Afghanistan, brighten because he beat a goofy McCainiac? Would McCain not have been more decimated by huge problems and broken government? In no time President McCain could shrink to Ronald Reagan in his last pitiful years.
Even more enthralled by Pentagon war-making, McCain’s escalations would have made Obama look the peacenik, no mean feat. Remember McCain’s very bad joke, intoning “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” which many took as likely agenda. So much for comic charm.
All that, plus the terror of the oldest elected president, health already compromised, replaced for five minutes by rogue Sarah’s incoherence, fed by secessionist Todd at her side. That “revolting development” nearly makes me reconsider harsh judgments against Obama.
Palin Cements McCain’s Shame
Next time you want a shivering horror movie experience, inviting sleepless nightmares, repeat as you close your eyes, “President Palin, President Palin, President Palin.” On second thought, pop a sleeping pill beforehand or you’ll be up all night.
Even if McCain hadn’t stayed well beyond his prime, demonstrating the unreal McCainiac was the candidate himself, I still trust historians will vilify him for picking Sarah Palin. That is even more the case if she gets within hailing distance of the White House.
Unlike skittish friends, I see little evidence Sarah the Sycophant 1) aims at national office, with her thin skin and “unqualified” shadow; 2) could campaign for two years without quitting four times; 3) could overcome the onslaught inevitable from terrified GOP leadership; 4) could win sufficient primaries (or big electoral states) outside conservative strongholds; 5) is willing to learn even the basics about national or international affairs; and thus, 6) invites against a top-campaigning incumbent president nothing less than a Goldwater-Ross Perot-style drubbing.
Unless unintended consequences reign, Obama I bet would relish taking on the entire Palin Pageant, composed of losers he’s already beaten.