The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

McCain’s failed attempt to restore his image

Posted by Bill Nance on October 13, 2008

You may have been reading about the recent McCain town-hall-style rally at which a woman said “I’m scared. He’s [Obama] an Arab, and…” At which point McCain took the microphone form her and said: “No Ma’am he’s not. He’s a decent man, a family man, which whom I have some disagreements.”

Various people have been parsing this statement: Andrew thinks he’s finally come to his senses, sort of. Mark Keliman thinks he deserves “credit.

Personally I think it’s something more. Something that can ony be described as a combination of cynicism and personal tragedy.

As I wrote in one of my very first posts, John McCain used to be a hero of mine. I admired him when he was genuinely something of a Maverick, if always a conservative one; and it always seemed to me he was above all, an honorable man. There’s a lot to admire about the guy. -Or there used to be.

This campaign has been diametrically opposed to everything I used to admire about McCain. The same man who decried the politics of hate and division, who voted against the first Bush tax cuts, who has talked loudly about how much he despises torture, who held the wacko religious right in contempt, has reversed every single one of these positions.

The about-face has been more dramatic than any other I can think of. That alone should cause anyone even considering a vote for McCain to re-think their position. If a man will completely reverse himself on so many supposedly core principles, how can he be trusted at all?

And of course the campaign he’s run has been nothing short of disgusting. Not just the usual distortions or over-statements of campaign politics; we’ve all come to expect those. No, McCain’s campaign has primarily consisted of outright falsehoods and character assassination.

Further, his selection of Sarah Palin was both fundamentally irresponsible (unless you believe a governor with 20 months of experience in a state with less than 700,000 people, who has not expressed the slightest understanding of any issues of national importance is qualified to be President) and is also representational of the complete reversal of everything he used to stand for. He despises people like this. The know-nothing, religious fanatics of the far-right. And he picked one to be his VP.

So what does the microphone grabbing incident really mean and what does it have to do with all of this?

I think John McCain knows very well this election is over. Unless we get another 911-style attack, there’s not a prayer he will win on November fourth. And he also knows the campaign he’s run has been nothing less than contemptibly dishonorable. None of this has been surrogates running wild. He’s agreed to this stuff. It’s been dishonorable and contradicts everything he’s ever stood for. And it’s going to be his epitaph.

I’m no seer, but I predict John McCain will spend the rest of the campaign trying desperately to restore his image while fighting what he knows full well is a lost battle. (It’s not as though he can concede). He doesn’t want to end his public career with this kind of legacy. I don’t expect the attack ads to stop, but I do expect McCain will do what he can to stay positive.

The rehabilitation effort comes too late. And like all true tragedies, the burning reality is that he did it to himself.

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