The Ugly New McCain
- 09-16-2008, 10:30 AM
The Ugly New McCain
By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. "I broke my promise to always tell the truth," McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.
The precise moment of McCain's abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on "The View," the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running. One deliberately mischaracterized what Barack Obama had said about putting lipstick on a pig -- an Americanism that McCain himself has used. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergarteners.
"We know that those two ads are untrue," Behar said. "They are lies."
Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like "Home Cooking" or "We Will Not Be Undersold." Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation "I approve this message" was just boilerplate. But he didn't.
"Actually, they are not lies," he said.
Actually, they are.
McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains -- his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that's all -- but just as honorably. No more, though.
I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician's lap.
Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story -- that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.
McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir -- the person in whose hands he would leave the country -- is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.
At a forum last week at Columbia University, McCain said, "But right now we have to restore trust and confidence in government." This was always the promise of John McCain, the single best reason to vote for him. America has been cheated on too many times -- the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month, only five civilians were killed by the American military in an airstrike, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.
McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you. I am John McCain, son and grandson of admirals. I tell the truth.
But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce.
John McCain is both.
- 09-16-2008, 10:32 AM
I have to say all the talk about McCain running a positive campaign is bogus (Obama has done it as well). However, McCain from the beginning has stated that there would be no negative attacks etc... Based on the McCain history in politics, I cannot say I am surprised.
09-16-2008, 10:35 AM
All campaigns start out saying no attack ads, and they all renege on that commitment after the conventions.
09-16-2008, 10:37 AM
09-16-2008, 10:53 AM
Obama would not pass an FBI background check yet he stands to be elected into a position with the highest security clearance afforded to any one person.
09-16-2008, 11:57 AM
09-16-2008, 12:18 PM
Where do you come up with these things, was it the same source of your erroneous Martin Luther King claims? The fact is McCain has sold his "Maverick" soul to the far right for a chance at the golden ring. The attack ads began on the republican side, as they always do. It has worked in the past with folks like Dukakis and Kerry that didn't fight back. It ain't gonna work this time just as it didn't work against Bill Clinton.
09-16-2008, 12:23 PM
09-16-2008, 12:36 PM
09-16-2008, 12:37 PM
09-16-2008, 01:56 PM
09-16-2008, 01:59 PM
09-16-2008, 02:13 PM
09-16-2008, 02:17 PM
09-16-2008, 02:20 PM
That's why people need to wake up. Political electioneering isn't about anything except superficial perceptions and determining what the public wants to hear and what they will react positively to. Politicians are nothing but actors until they are actually in office; even then many of them fail to meet their obligations. The amount of focus groups and surveys asking which slogan people prefer is a simple indication of it. This is why to really know candidates you have to look at who they were and what they did before they were in a position like this.
09-16-2008, 02:31 PM
In a earlier post we discussed this and you said you couldn't wait for 2017 to see the FBI files. The problem for you is that we will also by that time probably have the full scope of J Edgar Hoover's corruption of his personal vendetta agency and the lengths he went to to control and dominate peoples lives. MLK was a great man, your opinion notwithstanding.
09-16-2008, 05:05 PM
09-16-2008, 05:13 PM
09-16-2008, 05:15 PM
09-16-2008, 06:27 PM
So he heard something on the View and decided his hero was human and tossed him aside?
This part is what made me laugh:
What the **** ever. This article reads like a romance novel.His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician...
09-16-2008, 06:39 PM
We haven't had candidates that we "really Knew" in a long time now. And how much could we really know about our candidates when prior to them running for office, we could care less about who they are and what they do for the most part. I always say that 24hr news would have been history changing had it been around from the 40's.
There are people on this forum (myself included at times) that make comments as if they know from the horses mouth that what are saying is the God's honest truth. The fact is we take things that we read or see on in the media and spin it to our liking. The proof will be in the pudding, and hopefully it won't be worse than the last 8 years.
09-16-2008, 08:21 PM
I agree fast, we all want to make it seem like we are right, and the politicians we "support" are right as well. However, they are all crooked and corrupted or corruptable
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