Friday, August 01, 2008

McCain's Ugly Campaign

Eugene Robinson in this morning's Washington Post ("So Much for St. John") got me thinking, which is about par for the course with him:

    It's awfully early for John McCain to be running such a desperate, ugly campaign against Barack Obama. But I guess it's useful for Democrats to get a reminder that the Republican Party plays presidential politics by the same moral code that guided the bad-boy Oakland Raiders in their heyday:"Just win, baby."
    The latest bit of snarling, mean-spirited nonsense to come out of the McCain camp was the accusation, leveled by campaign manager Rick Davis, that Obama had "played the race card." He did so, apparently, by being black.

Not that anyone cares, but I'm extremely disappointed in John McCain. I was one of those naive souls who, eight years ago, thought he would be okay on Pennsylvania Avenue should he arrive there...which at the time seemed a disctinct possibility. He struck me than as someone who, as my father would have said, had his head on straight. He was, after all, a moderate. A maverick. A straight-talker. Even an unrepentant leftist like me found him the least-worrisome of the field of GOP contenders that summer.

(The GOP, of course, went and nominated the most worrisome of the contenders, but we all know that story.)

I'll be the first to admit I'm naive...but I'm not completely naive. I don't think that Straight-Talk McCain was a complete
fabrication. If so, he was pretty damn good at it. But the McCain we see today, Mud-Sling McCain, quick to disparage, quick to cast aspersions, quick to imply, quick to lie, seems so completely formed that I have to wonder about the man's personality. I mean, he didn't seem phony eight years ago when he was Straight-Talk McCain, and he doesn't seem phony now that he's Mud-Sling McCain.

So which one is real and which one the mask?

Or are they both real?

Or are they both masks?

Or is it simply that, having missed the brass ring the last time around, McCain this time decided to follow that time-honored tradition of doing anything--any...damn...thing--in order to win?

We wouldn't have dirty politics if it never worked.

As Robinson rightly points out:

    Negative campaigning is not a pretty thing, and it should be beneath John McCain to stoop so low. But Democrats would be foolish to forget that sometimes it works.

Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Paul Krugman has this to offer:

    Most criticism of John McCain’s decision to follow the Bush administration’s lead and embrace offshore
    drilling as the answer to high gas prices has focused on the accusation that it’s junk economics — which it is.

    A McCain campaign ad says that gas prices are high right now because “some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America.” That’s just plain dishonest: the U.S. government’s own Energy Information Administration
    says that removing restrictions on offshore drilling wouldn’t lead to any additional domestic oil production until 2017, and that even at its peak the extra production would have an “insignificant” impact on oil prices.

    What’s even more important than Mr. McCain’s bad economics, however, is what his reversal on this
    issue — he was against offshore drilling before he was for it — says about his priorities.

    Back when he was cultivating a maverick image, Mr. McCain portrayed himself as more environmentally aware than the rest of his party. He even co-sponsored a bill calling for a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions (although his remarks on several recent occasions suggest that he doesn’t understand
    his own proposal). But the lure of a bit of political gain, it turns out, was all it took to transform him back into a standard drill-and-burn Republican.

    And the planet can’t afford that kind of cynicism.

Whichever McCain is the real one--if either of them is, or if there even is a real McCain--the one who currently is running for president is exactly the one we don't need. And when I say "we," I don't mean just the United States.

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