The Blog

Oct 10, 2008

It's a Shame About McCain 

by Maxim Porges @ 10:31 PM | Link | Feedback (1)

So, having watched the second presidential debate this week, I feel a little better about the positions/policies of each candidate. For whatever reason, I think the town hall-esque environment seemed to work better for getting the candidates to speak to the questions posed to them (no matter how oddly twisted it was compared to the typical town hall affairs). Maybe it was the fact that they were responding to regular old citizens instead of news anchors.

Anyway... throughout the debate, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell was going on with John McCain. As I stated in my last post on the subject, I had always liked John as a senator after becoming aware of him for the first time during his 2000 presidential race. Whenever I saw him on TV in the years after, he was calling people from both sides of the aisle to the carpet when they acted out, speaking his mind, and generally acting like the kind of guy I wished all politicians could be.

And then John decided to run for office again in 2008. At first, I was happy - this would be his last shot considering his age, and since I had liked him in 2000 I expected to like him just as much now (if not more). At first, he was almost dropped from the race, and then made a resounding turnaround earlier this year.

It was at this time that I began to wonder where the old John McCain had gone. Instead of the guy I was used to, here was somebody who seemed uneasy when speaking in public, didn't seem to know what he stood for, and continuously seemed to tow the party line regardless of its stance in a way I have never seen him do in the past. It's only gotten worse in recent weeks, ever since his dubious move of adding Palin to the ticket - a move whose only discernible motive seems to have been to sway Hilary Clinton supporters. I know how terrible that sounds and I hope it's not the case, but having watched her intently the last few weeks I can't see many other qualifications.

So, coming back to John - what happened? I think I have figured it out. I'm probably wrong, but I figured I would share my thoughts anyway. I will personally be very sad if I am wrong after all, because I have always liked John, and if he has really turned in to this new version of himself then we've lost a serious asset in our government.

I think that John decided that with this being his last shot for the presidency, maybe he should listen to the political analysts on his campaign staff. I think they shaped his policy decisions for items that would appeal to the base, over prepped him for the debates, and generally ruled over his campaign to the point where John lost his sense of self and identity. I also believe that his campaign suggested Palin as a game changer; it was a strategic marketing move that would give John a chance to win if it worked, regardless of whether or not John thought she was the best running mate.

The thing that really solidified this belief for me was how John appeared in the last debate. He seemed like a guy acting out a script, with all the unnatural tendencies and voice pitch that accompanies such a performance. Just watch some video of John when he's comfortable, like his many appearances on The Daily Show, or occasions when he's handed somebody their ass in his role on Capitol Hill. Then compare it to his debates; you can immediately see the difference. And while I may not agree with everything Obama has to say or every policy he intends to bring to the office should he win, I at least felt like he was being himself during the last debate.

I think I saw a glimpse of the old John today in a news clip, when he took the microphone away from a supporter to correct her on the impression that Obama was an arab (although she didn't seem so sure of this herself as John disagreed with her, funnily enough - it was almost like she was trying to appease the crowd with her statement). No matter how much is at stake, there are limits, and I have a lot of respect for John understanding them and making corrections where necessary. McCain's camp has been responsible for plenty of character assassination against Obama in recent weeks, and while this may be par for the course in any political race, if it goes too far it may end up with a real assassination instead. God forbid that any president be taken out of office under such circumstances, but I believe there is plenty of intolerance still running amok in this country. It doesn't take much effort to push serious bigotry to violent action. On that note, since I hail from the country responsible for Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s it is utterly fascinating to me that the USA still has issues with gender and race in its leaders (but I'll save that for another post).

It is my hope that John has realized that however this race ends, he should end it with a modicum of his former dignity, and that this is the reason he's started publicly setting his supporters straight. Regardless of who is elected for the presidency in November, I would have a hell of a lot of respect for that.

UPDATE: Wow - somebody with far more wit and aplomb than I captures my sentiments perfectly (and backs them with what might be facts).