"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, April 06, 2007

The McCain Campaign, Kicked Off the Island

My heart bleeds for John McCain, who is a great man. I almost came out for his candidacy six months ago, because I felt (and still feel) that our country needs someone who can get all us Americans roughly on the same page. Left and right are at each other's throats: at the office, at dinner parties, at the bowling alley, and in some cases, the bedroom.

But something held me back. McCain's silly but well-intentioned campaign finance reform was in the grand scheme of things small potatoes. His objection to the first round of Bush tax cuts was disconcerting, but at least he wasn't a tax-raiser. No, it had to do with John McCain, the man.

I caught McCain's run-in with CNN's Iraq correspondent/pundit Michael Ware at the doctor's office (I'm fine, thanks for asking, but I thought I'd slip that in to explain why I've been MIA here lately). McCain said that Baghdad was getting quite safe. Ware, albeit keeping himself purposefully but understandably constantly drunk in the Apocolypse Now that is today's Iraq, was quite right to scoff.

In an attempt to defend his assertion, Sen. McCain donned a Kevlar vest and rounded up a US military posse to accompany him in a tour of an Iraq open-air market. That was shown to be ridiculous---an American, not to mention a US senator, can't walk around freely in Baghdad. Nor could most members of the Iraq government.

McCain will back off in an interview to be telecast on Sunday:

"Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," said McCain, according to 60 Minutes.

John McCain, when his emotional temperature permits, has worked to heal his (minor) ideological rifts with the GOP since the 2004 presidential campaign, when he stumped for President Dubya in New Hampshire, and has made appearances on behalf of any Republican congressional candidate who's asked. In the war against the Islamo-Badguys, he's been a rock.

Success or failure in Iraq is the transcendent issue for our foreign policy and our national security. People say they want to defeat the terrorists, but if we withdraw from Iraq prematurely, it will be the terrorists' greatest triumph.


There it is, put better than anyone anywhere at this moment. I wish I could say my regard for John McCain is unbounded, but it has bounds.

McCain forgives himself for misspeaking, but in this day and age, with a 24/7 news cycle/reality show that includes al-Jazeera and the Daily Kos, a president just can't "misspeak" anymore. Even that silver-tongued devil Bill Clinton didn't have to run such a gauntlet.

Amazingly, except for a single mention of the incendiary word "crusade" shortly after 9-11, the putatively most inarticulate commander in chief in American history has seldom if ever "misspoke." By contrast, Bush rival John Kerry shot his own candidacy through the mouth with his "I voted for it before I voted against it" moronism shortly after his nomination.

I don't think America's genuine enemies really give a damn about political rhetoric; in that way they're smarter than us. Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can deny the Holocaust or speak of the annihilation of Israel or the US and nobody blinks an eye, especially America's theoretical friends, the western left that rules Europe and holds great sway in our own nation's Democratic Party.

But let a member of the world's real reality-based community, the diminishing non-leftist Anglosphere, slip off the rails just once, and he's dead meat. For all his virtue and decency, a quick google of "McCain" and "Iraq" shows the jackal pack punching his ticket to the political abattoir.

A man can be great, a man can be good, but to be our president in this day and age, he or she must first be clever. Senator McCain, I hope that it's some consolation that two out of three ain't bad, atall atall.

6 comments:

Evanston said...

From movie Harvey: ELWOOD: "Years ago, my mother used to say to me --
she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be --' She always called me Elwood. 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me."

And I just did. I'm not sure that McCain is either smart or pleasant.

Jay D. Homnick said...

From the right side of the aisle to the wrong side of the isle.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Indeed, gentlemen. Although there's so much to respect and admire about him, there's something about McCain that doesn't make people want to follow his lead.

Evanston said...

Entirely off-topic -- I'm not sure what your criteria are for blogging here, but you may want to invite this guy:
http://rantsand.blogspot.com/

Tom Van Dyke said...

Anyone who likes "300" and Mad Magazine can't be all bad.

Michael Simpson said...

I'm not sure that's right, TVD. I use my wife as a political barometer - she's sort of a squishy centrist who leans right because her husband is a knuckle-scraper and leans left because wants to be "nice." She saw the McCain interview last night on 60 Minutes and was impressed, mostly because he didn't sound canned. McCain has a lot of irritating qualities - his penchant for wanting to regulate the universe being chief among them - but I think he could be a great wartime President. And I think his "candor" (which is no doubt itself quite carefully considered) will be an asset in the coming campaign, if for no other reason than many are deadly tired of politicians who speak like politicians.