Back during the earlier (and, somehow, saner!?) days of this general election campaign, the criticism of Barack Obama from the right was that he was all talk and no substance, that he talked a good game but had no plan of action aside from pedestrian calls for change. This was untrue even then (it might have been true around February 2007, but no later than that), but he talked so darned well, so it stuck. And it's been some time since that message been trotted out, perhaps because Obama has spoken fluently about policy in some high-profile settings: the DNC and the debate, for starters. The narrative has become outmoded.
But not really, because somebody new has picked up the mantle: John McCain! Yes. For about a month now he's been saying "change" and "reform" every other word, despite having basically been Bush's bootlicker since 2002. But does McCain think he can really out-change Obama? Evidently, but the striking thing is that he's become the very caricature of Obama that the right constructed out of whole cloth. What does change mean to McCain? Not sensible tax reform. Not moderation on social positions. Not a reorientation in military policy. In fact, his claims of reform have extended no further than a weak pledge to ban congressional earmarks and vapid claims of renewed bipartisanship. Then again, the Republican base really hates McCain and he has no leverage to reform the GOP, so he basically has to wave his hands around and hope nobody notices that he's peddling the same shit.
For example, here's Maverick's statement on the bailout bill passing. Notice that, as it was a couple of days ago, McCain's denunciation of bipartisanship comes immediately before an attack upon Barack Obama. Great way to foster comity with the center and center-left, no? As we near election day, John McCain's frustration is showing. This is not the portrait of a happy warrior waging a battle for the future of his country against the odds, or of a patriot asking the public to better serve his country. This is the picture of an old, broken man who keenly senses the beginning of the end of his saga. A man whose entitlement has always run wild and who has always gotten what he wanted (see the Rolling Stone piece I posted a link to below) and nearly had a breakdown the one time he didn't, in 2000. Instead of being an effervescent and wise old salt, he's become an unpleasant and enraged curmudgeon who can't conceal his contempt for this young punk who dares question him. And his decision to go completely negative in terms of his campaign--in other words, to try to tear down a dedicated public servant and patriot in hopes that the country will turn to him out of desperation--tells you everything you need to know about the moral rot that has taken ahold of this man.
Before this campaign, I had a very favorable opinion of John McCain. Now I hate him. I hate him far more than George W. Bush, an amiable bumbler who eventually realized his mistakes (well, some of them) and has had a considerably more toned-down and realistic second term. At this point, if given a choice, I'd rather have four more years of second term Bush than four years of John McCain, and this is coming from a guy who thinks that George W. Bush ruined this country, perhaps irreparably.
I used to think that the Bush campaign's attacks on John McCain were exhibit one in the catalog of the moral rot within Bushdom. Those attacks were unfair and scurrilous, and I still believe this, but I only wish that Bush had done a more thorough job of savaging McCain's character. Couldn't he have done this one service to his country?
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.