I have personally believed, and heard many rational people assert, that John McCain is an independent man. That he is saner than the crowd that controls the White House now. That he is better than the various others who vied with him for the Republican nomination.
I do not believe this any more.
It may be argued that under pressures of campaigning, politicians occasionally do ill-advised things. But McCain displays a pattern of behavior which goes well behind this dubious, but necessarily limited, moral blank check.
From the moment he allowed his campaign to portray Obama as a an empty celebrity, when he questioned Obama's patriotism, when he picked Palin, and today when he sits idly as the Republicans create a "phony outrage
" over Obama's comments, McCain is proving himself to be anything but independent. His campaign is being controlled by the same tactics and methods that, ironically, defeated him in 2000. There is little expectation that a possible McCain administration will be any different. Andrew Sullivan
captures these thoughts admirably.
And when he had the chance to engage in a real and substantive debate against the most talented politician of the next generation in a fall campaign where vital issues are at stake, what did McCain do? He began his general campaign with a series of grotesque, trivial and absurd MTV-style attacks on Obama's virtues and implied disgusting things about his opponent's patriotism.
And then, because he could see he was going to lose, ten days ago, he threw caution to the wind and with no vetting whatsoever, picked a woman who, by her decision to endure her own eight-month pregnancy of a Down Syndrome child in public, that he was going to reignite the culture war as a last stand against Obama. That's all that is happening right now: a massive bump in the enthusiasm of the Christianist base. This is pure Rove.
Yes, McCain made a decision that revealed many appalling things about him. In the end, his final concern is not national security. No one who cares about national security would pick as vice-president someone who knows nothing about it as his replacement. No one who cares about this country's safety would gamble the security of the world on a total unknown because she polled well with the Christianist base. No person who truly believed that the surge was integral to this country's national security would pick as his veep candidate a woman who, so far as we can tell anything, opposed it at the time.