Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Pebble In Your Shoe

This column by Rich Lowry beautifully sums up everything I think about John McCain and his candidacy. Sure, a week before the election seems like an odd time to write a post-mortem, but c'mon, who are we kidding here?

While McCain likes to characterize himself as a maverick, in reality he's always been more of a gadfly--a persistent, annoying critic.

As a gadfly, McCain often attacked Republican campaign tactics. He denounced the Swift Boat vets in 2004. Still thinking like a gadfly, back in April he reprimanded the North Carolina Republican Party for running an ad featuring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In ruling Wright out of bounds, McCain had taken off the table Barack Obama’s most damaging association. McCain had gadflied himself!

Not surprisingly, McCain has been badly outclassed in fundraising by Obama. As a gadfly, McCain always considered fundraising fundamentally distasteful. He celebrated the public financing rules that Obama has blown by on his way to raising some $750 million. McCain was so adamant about campaign-finance strictures that he harangued against independent groups, so-called 527s, and partly as a result, there are few of them to come to his aid in his desperate hour of financial need.
There's a big part of me that loves to see McCain lying on this bed of his own making, but it's unfortunate that it has had to come at such an important time for the country.

...Gadflies are loners because they spend so much time offending their own side. In his initial primary campaign prior to the 2007 meltdown, McCain staffed up with Bush loyalists — because there were so few McCain loyalists — who didn’t understand his appeal. Now, his general-election campaign is rife with former Bush staffers leaking to the press to save their post-McCain campaign reputations. Ah, the agony of the gadfly.

Outside his campaign, meanwhile, McCain is getting abandoned by all the Republicans who usually pronounce themselves “troubled” by Republican tactics. If McCain weren’t running for president, and it were some other Republican who had attacked Obama for his associations and picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, surely McCain himself would be on some Sunday show clucking his disapproval.
That last paragraph is it exactly. Mark my words. It will only be a few months after the election before McCain himself will be taking shots in the press at Sarah Palin and attempting to align himself with Obama and the new Democratic majority. It's what he does. He'll be the first Republican lining up to praise the other party, which has always been his role in the media.

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