Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why is McCain being superficial?

Jeffrey Goldberg says, "So, what do you do when one of your core ideas is out of sync with the predispositions of the American public? You spend your days talking about lipstick on pigs. This might win him the election, but I'd rather see him debate preemption."

Kevin Drum says:

"But there's another piece to this. As near as I can tell, McCain, deep in his gut, has convinced himself that Barack Obama is flatly unfit to the president. He's too inexperienced, he's an empty suit, he's naive, and he'll end up surrendering a weakened and declining America to Islamic extremism without a fight. The campaign corollary to this is obvious: the truly honorable course if you love your country is to do whatever it takes to make sure Obama never gets near the Oval Office. If that means running a campaign that sullies your own reputation — well, you just have to suck it up and pay that price. History will eventually exonerate you. In McCain's mind, the fact that he's willing to sacrifice his own reputation is a sign of just how deeply he loves his country."
The former would have made sense were it not for the rank dishonesty coming out of McCain's campaign. He's not just being irrelevant, he's lying like crazy. But it's partly true. The latter strikes me as far more likely, and it sounds almost exactly like the reasoning behind Hillary Clinton's aggressive-till-the-last philosophy. Obama can't win the general election, so doing anything to beat him is justified. Now, it's that Obama can't win the War on Terror, so doing anything to beat him is justified. This is one point of view, and it conveniently conflates self-interest with greater interest by making one's ambition inseparable from the greater good. It's not unlike officeholders who justify running for higher office by talking about how much more people they can help. Yes, true, but they'll also, like, have much more power to wield. So it's win-win, right?

For all the talk about Obama acting "entitled" to the presidency it seems to me that McCain exhibits this particular trait more. Same with arrogance. Think about it. He doesn't think a lack of policy ideas, a joke of a running mate, having facilitated an awful Republican regime for the past eight years--none of this is disqualifying. In fact, he feels so entitled that he ran a slimy campaign. That's the only way to reconcile a sense of "honor" with what the man has actually done--because he deserves it. It also shows why he despises Obama so deeply. But this is a man who doesn't believe he should be held accountable for all the failures of the president he vigorously supported four years ago. He expects us to just trust him to do better, while depriving us of any important information to make this decision on our own. Considering how fucked-up the country has become, it can only be construed as rank arrogance.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.