Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 27, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE DAY AFTER....I've never been a big John McCain fan. Even in the 2001-2004 era, when he was flirting with the left and opposing the most neanderthal elements in his own party, I didn't really warm to him.



To me, he mostly seemed like a standard issue conservative who had discovered a good schtick during the 2000 campaign and was milking it for all it was worth, pandering to a press and pundit corps that, he had learned, routinely goes gaga over politicians who supposedly reject the shibboleths of both parties and simply speak their mind.

I never really bought it, but at the same time, politics is politics. McCain was hardly the first guy to work hard on his public persona, and, ideological disputes aside, he always struck me as a basically decent person. A little too self-righteous for my taste, but decent.

But now I'm watching him in 2008, his desperation for the presidency driving him to conduct a campaign that's carefully but relentlessly testing ever more contemptible depths of squalor in its attacks on Barack Obama ("he made time to go to the gym but cancelled a visit with wounded troops" is just the latest), and I wonder how he's going to feel when it's all over. Not only will he lose the election, but he's going to wake up one morning and realize that he abandoned his dignity in the process. That's obviously something that's important to him, and even for someone who was never much of a fan, it's kind of sad to watch him give it up so readily.

Kevin Drum 5:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (90)

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That's obviously something that's important to him,
Your evidence for this? His actions seem to suggest otherwise.

Posted by: SP on July 27, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Not only will he lose the election, but he's going to wake up one morning and realize that he abandoned his dignity in the process."

Jeebus, I hope you're right.

Do not underestimate the ability of the American people to vote for the worst possible candidate - the last two elections have taught me that.

Also, someone who so easily "abandons his dignity" never had any to begin with.

Posted by: GF on July 27, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, he has never had any dignity. what you are seeing and describing is the same John McCain that has always existed. It has been patently obvious since the day he set his tawdry carpetbag down in this state. John McCain cares about John McCain and only about John McCain. He will do or say anything at any given moment, and then turn on a dime the next, if he senses even fleeting benefit to John McCain. He will screw over anybody or anything, and anytime, to serve himself. It has always been this way if you scratch below the fraudulent facade he has carefully erected.

Posted by: bmaz on July 27, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

What SP said. His dignity isn't as important to him as becoming president. Anyway, I don't think that *any* politician really values their personal dignity all that much - politics is just inherently undignified. McCain must have figured out how to deal with this particular cognitive dissonance long ago.

Posted by: weichi on July 27, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's disgusting, gutter level, Rove-inspired campaign should surprise no one. McCain is a deeply corrupt man who has surrounded himself with the worst people in Washington (such as Phil Gramm, architect of much of the financial meltdown we are seeing now.) He has practically called Obama a traitor and he eagerly spreads lies about him. Want to fight back? I'm raising $10,000 for Obama right here. It's a practical way to register your outrage against this unprincipled dimwit the Republicans and their friends in the corporate media are trying to foist on us.

Posted by: Joe M. on July 27, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the link I embedded won't open for you, try this:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/JMiller

Posted by: Joe M. on July 27, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain is looking for his dignity, here's where he lost it. What we're seeing is simply that the Repub Slime Machine is getting desperate because nothing they fling at Obama sticks.

Posted by: ogmb on July 27, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

His first wife may have better understanding of the time-frame during which he shed his dignity.

Posted by: gregor on July 27, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

The desperation we are seeing is Rove-inspired and GOP-directed. They are spending every last cent of political capital and media manipulation to buy a few years of "statute of limitations." One of the more interesting reaches is trying to imply the military still supports the GOP. The whole gym-time lie, and the captain who outright lied about the Afghanistan visit were attempts to keep the troops in line. They failed. Current polling has them 20-points or more down with the troops. The Bush administration has really hammered military families. I wonder if they are not trying to keep this fiction alive so they can steal votes from the absentee system again. Absentees should greatly favor Dems this year. Any departure from that reality is cause for concern. Free and fair elections have been few and far between with this junta. We have fallen so far thanks to the GOP.

Posted by: Sparko on July 27, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a distinction without much difference but the McCain attacks seem more typically Nixonian than Rovian. There's less subtlety, more paranoia, and a huge store of resentment in his ads.

The reason they probably won't work is that they contradict the felt evidence of Obama's even and disciplined personality. Obama's higher-ground, bearing tends to invalidate the attacks crude premises. McCain's desperation becomes the real subject since it's the deepest emotion he's communicating.

McCain's scattershot but largely negative approach only serves to undercut his brand. It took years to create but only a couple of awful months to dissolve. For his fans in the media and punditocracy, this is the most bitter pill to swallow.

Posted by: walt on July 27, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I said this about McCain before when he first folded to Bush entirely on voting for a Congressional ban on torture: the only thing worse than losing your soul while winning the whole world is losing your soul while making yourself look like a fool in the process.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on July 27, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I am going to have to disagree with you. Well, I never liked John McCain at all - in that we agree. But, don't be too presumptuous in saying that he will lose the election. I am really worried right now and I give Obama about a 50-50 chance (yes, I know what the polls have said).

Pundits seem to think that John McCain starting to attack (and getting VERY personal) is a sign of his campaign starting to get desperate. I disagree. Politicians get personal because personal attacks work. No matter how many times people say they hate "mudslinging" in politics, the reason candidates still mudsling is because it works. And yes, Republicans have attacked Democrats far more than the other way around in the past several elections - and many people still think the Republicans are morally superior to the Democrats.

Posted by: Fighting Words on July 27, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Knee jerk pathetic, whining, jealous-sounding remarks from the cranky, old John McCain...even conservative blogger Jonah Goldberg referred to him as "leading a loud chorus of conservatives and Republicans DESPERATE...his standing with the GOP base shaky....using the surge is a losing strategy for McCain, and the getting-us-out (of Iraq) part is where he gets tongue-tied."

I loved that this was front page opinion news in my area's conservative newspaper, and that readers also observed from Goldberg that
"with sectarian violence nearly gone, al-Qaida in Iraq almost totally routed and even Sadrist militias seemingly neutralized, the stakes of withdrawal seem low enough for Americans to feel comfortable voting for Obama."

Yes!!

I agree with Kevin. And further, I can't stand watching McCain grimace, squint, mutter in his monotone, and repeat himself.
He comes across as a contrarian, that's all. Judgmental and reflexively negative like some cranky uncle.

And for his part, Obama did a wonderful job on Meet the Press, countering the grumpy Tom Brokow that when McCain went to Canada and Columbia, the media did not criticize McCain for being arrogant or presumptuous going as a candidate as opposed to waiting til the election results to be presidential--as it has criticized the senator from Illinois.
Obama successfully pointed out the disparate treatment by the media
as related to John McSame As Bush.

Posted by: consider wisely always on July 27, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

All I can say is: Bush 2000 & 2004. Be. Very. Afraid.

Posted by: EL on July 27, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I dislike the terms "troll" and "concern troll" because mostly they are used as ad hominem to dismiss arguments and dehumanize people.

And I am voting for Obama.

But what's this post but concern trollery on your part?

I know your dignity is important to you, I'm sure you really don't want to lose it by writing concern troll posts.

OR:

McCain would like to be President. Politics is the extension of war by less scrupulous tactics. News at 11.

Posted by: jerry on July 27, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Do not underestimate the ability of the American people to vote for the worst possible candidate - the last two elections have taught me that.

If you mean Bush, I agree. If you mean Nader, I agree even more.

As to Mc Cain's ads, the ultimate irony will be the Senator from Arizona re-using LBJ's "Daisy" ad in his favour. OBIE WILL BRING AMERICA TO A NUCLEAR RUIN.

Posted by: Idi Amin's Last Meal on July 27, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not sink to arguing that McCain never had a core of integrity or dignitiy in his life. He obviously did.

Regarding Fighting Words's argument that personal attacks work -- yes, they do. But they are hardly ever uttered by the candidate himself. That McCain is actually saying these slimy things himself, this early in the election, really does make him seem desperate. That doesn't mean that he has no chance of winning -- but I think it does mean that internally his campaign believes it's unlikely unless the dynamic can somehow be changed.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on July 27, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

You only have to go back to the 2000 SC primary, where the Rove Machine turned loose a torrent of slime against Straight-Talk, and you would have presumed that the experience should have soured McPain forever on these guys. But no, shortly thereafter there was the shameless "cuddle" photo of McPain shoving his nose into Junior's armpit whilst embracing him as "the Man"...and latterly, hiring the unindicted co-conspirator Rove as a campaign "advisor". The man is without any principles whatsoever, and as his candidacy becomes doomed to all but the terminally oblivious, his campaign will go scorched-earth medieval, taking the position that "if I go down, I'm taking Obama with me".

Posted by: barrisj on July 27, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I wondered the same thing about Lieberman. Wait til he wakes up on Nov 5th and the Democrats tell him to take a hike and the GOP won't return his phone calls. Maybe McCain and Lieberman and get together and drown their sorrows with some of Cindy's beer.

Posted by: Rosali on July 27, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I actually felt sorry for McCain in 2000 over those rumors about his so-called black love child who turned out to be his legitimately adopted daughter from India. But when he turned around and embraced Bush literally and figuratively in 2004, that was that. I still believe McCain is the sacrifical candidate this year and for whatever reason, he doesn't care. This past week was a real jaw-dropper as he sunk lower and lower and lower. At first I thought, why doesn't he take the high road, ignore Obama and tell us about his own policies. But then I realized, he knows what he's doing, he's playing to the base, with Rove written all over it. But this time it just doesn't have the same impact, does it? In fact, it disgusts more people than it wins over, I'm willing to bet.

Posted by: pixie on July 27, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Larry Birnbaum at 6:25 pm, I am curious as to when you allege that McCain had this "core of integrity and dignity", because it has certainly not been in the almost 30 years he has been in Arizona. I have both seen and, to some extent, personally known him that entire period, as well as having been represented by the jackass, and I know not of which you speak.

Posted by: on July 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

For me it became most apparent that McCain was going to say and do anything he could to win the nomination and the presidency way back when he jumped on board with the Republican smear of Kerry when they said Kerry besmirched the troops when he botched a joke. Really pathetic.

It would be nice to think that McCain will reflect back on his behavior in the campaign with great discomfort, but I'm afraid that, like Bush, he probably will sleep comfortably on a bed of feeble rationalizations.

Posted by: TK on July 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

turned out to be his legitimately adopted daughter from India

Hardly, my man. The allegation, which had "legitimacy" since Mc Cain did, in fact, have a dark-skinned child, was Mc Cain, in his wild post-POW days, was not only running around on the first ex-Mrs. Mc Cain, but running around on her with THEM. So, while JSM did have a Bangladeshi adoptee living in his manse, there were a multitude of Li'l Mulatto Mc Cains roaming American, bringing shame on Her, with their miscegenated origin. JUST LIKE OBIE.

Posted by: Idi Amin's Last Meal on July 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

If he had any concern at all about personal dignity he would have retired from public life after the Keating affair and gone quietly off to cooking school like other disgraced Arizona politicos.

Posted by: wmac on July 27, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

McCain would like to be President. Politics is the extension of war by less scrupulous tactics. News at 11.

Since you're bereft of a clue, I'll provide one. It's nothing short of loathsome & desperate to accuse your opponent of treason.

You can argue for a policy of 100 years in Iraq, if you think such a crackpot proposition is a good idea. You can argue that a 16 month timeframe for withdrawal is a really bad idea (before turning around and saying that, actually, it's perfectly okay, after all.) But when you say that "Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," you're doing nothing less than saying that your opponent is deliberately aligning his interests with those of America's enemies for the sole purpose of his political benefit. And all of this in spite of the fact that this Republican administration has used & abused the American military like a $5 whore for no better reason than political gain.

I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt & assume you missed that tasteful remark by McCain. If you posted in full knowledge of that comment, though, then I think it's pretty clear who the troll here is.

Posted by: junebug on July 27, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I beleive dignity is the last thing on McCain's mind. The man called his wife a cunt in public; in his home state he's so unpopular he's probably going to lose it; and he was willing to embrace and support a man who destroyed whatever dignity he had left in the 2000 primaries.

McCain is actually capable of saying that he voted for Bush in 2000, after the treatment Rove subjected him to. You can be 100% certain that McCain did not vote for Bush, if he did, he's a complete push-over, and that's not the impression he gives.

Instead, he's an unprincipled, prevaricating, lying, dissembling and disgusting individual - who will take the U.S. to places we never thought a functioning democracy would ever go ...

Posted by: SteinL on July 27, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

McCain sacrificed his dignity when he hugged George Bush. That was the last scrap that he had and he is now just an asshole.

I wonder how many of the journalists who worship the ground he walks on will actually realize this.

I fear too few and think Obama will lose this election. I saw CNN repeating as settled fact all day yesterday that Obama missed that troop visit because he could not bring photographers. For the casual observor of politics nothing could be a more damning statement. I think you'll see Obama's poll numbers sink like a stone next week.

Posted by: Teresa on July 27, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

If I just implied something positive about personal dignity and Fife Symington, it was unintentional.

Posted by: wmac on July 27, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that both Gore and McCain share a certain "could have been" glow of regret from voters who wish either Gore or McCain had won instead of Bush.

Although McCain never has been a saint, during his 2000 run he was far more candid in his answers than either Gore or Bush and uniquely willing to admit mistakes (sometimes a little on the late side as with the Confederate flag in South Carolina, but how often do you hear a candidate admit they felt guilty for supporting something to win votes that they didn't really believe in, and regretted their decision to lie?).

It didn't take a genius to recognize what a thoroughly worthless, contemptible, and amoral individual Bush was (or as I liked to call him "Smirky the draft-dodging coke-monkey"). Actually, if you couldn't figure it out after South Carolina, you weren't paying attention or you had some kind of mental/personality defect.

McCain was also one of the few Republicans to decry Bush Sr's efforts to convert the GOP in to the POG (Party of God) and went so far as to angrily denounce Falwell and Robertson as "agents of intolerance".

Sadly, however, in the last year and a half or so, McCain stopped being his own man - his criticisms of the GOP and the Bush administration (however infrequent) disappeared and he seemed to have sold his soul, such as it was, and decided he would do or say anything and everything necessary to shore up the GOP nomination. He embraced Falwell and Robertson, he began voting 100% with the Bush administration, and nearly all of his criticisms of the GOP or Bush administration stopped (most conspicuously his reversal on torture).

It is in some ways sad. But given how warped the GOP power base has become, it was entirely necessary if he was to have a chance at winning the nomination (something which seemed like a long shot until late in the process). The GOP seemed to have "settled" for McCain as their least worst option (heaven forbid the Religious Right vote for a Mormon or Catholic), rather than someone they were enthusiastic about.

I would be surprised if McCain did not plan to run right back to his status quo ante primary. Surely the things that made him despised among Republicans (his perceived "maverick" behavior) was what made him popular with your average voters, which is what he'd need to win in a general election.

The only problem is that Obama has too much of a lead in the polls to allow McCain the luxury of being himself. He sold his soul to secure the nomination and it's now clear he's decided to sell his soul again to win the general election. It makes the audacity of his accusation that Obama is 'willing to lose a war to win the election' all the more contemptible.

Posted by: Augustus on July 27, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I understand that you have to go negative when you are behind in the polls, but he's only a little bit behind, AND IT'S ONLY JULY for God's sake. He needs to save this kind of desperation for October.

Posted by: lina on July 27, 2008 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't stand watching McCain grimace, squint, mutter in his monotone, and repeat himself."

Don't forget "My friends...."

If the guy had as many friends as he pretends to have, he wouldn't be so low in the polls.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 27, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

wmac at 7:03 You did not; however, I almost wonder if Fife doesn't somehow have a little more integrity than McCain. Not sure why I say that, just kind of strikes me that way. Jeebus, tough question; neither one has squat in this category. I guess I say it because, on a personal level, Symington is at least capable of coming across a human, where McCain is just a constant angry jackass. Fascinating comparison though...

Posted by: bmaz on July 27, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain would like to be President. Politics is the extension of war by less scrupulous tactics. News at 11.

Since you're bereft of a clue, I'll provide one. It's nothing short of loathsome & desperate to accuse your opponent of treason"

Yes junebug, you're correct of course. By my saying that politicians that want to become president use LESS scrupulous tactics than all out war, I am actually congratulating McCain on his fine choice of attacks and I am a troll.

Or, as I've said before and earlier, people use the word troll because they are idiots who have no argument and need some way to dehumanize a person who may disagree with them.

The point of my post was that McCain was acting like a typical politician, and Kevin's concern for his dignity was silly.

Posted by: jerry on July 27, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

My friends, Kevin Drum is right.

That's not ch-change we can believe in!

Posted by: agum on July 27, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is "ends justifies the means" 2004 all over again, and it should come as no surprise. McCain has no consistent or even comprehensible policy on Iraq that the American people will buy, his economic prescriptions are Bush redux and worse, and there is simply nothing he stands for that the majority of the American people agree with. Thus, he can't win by extolling himself or his policies, but by denigrating Obama, on whatever disgusting level he's willing to sink to, and that seems bottomless. The GOP haven't run an honest or honorable campaign ever in my memory, so there's no reason to believe that they will run anything but a dishonorable, dishonest campaign now.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on July 27, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is on his way to oblivion.

His smile sends chills down my spine. (Can you imagine watching that grimace for 4 years????)

His shrillity is something to see.

I can just see him tit-for-tat his way into the dustbin of history.

He's boring. He is a bore. Or do I mean boar?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on July 27, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Read this over at my professor's blog:

Again drawing on my powerful research skills (i.e., The Google) I present Army Regulation 360-1, 15 September 2000, "Public Affairs":

"Military installations will not be used ...by any incumbents or new office seeking candidates, their staff members, or their campaign representatives for political assemblies or meetings, media events (including speeches), fundraising social events or causes regardless of sponsorship, press conferences, and/or any other activity that could be construed as politically oriented." (AR 360-1, Section 3-4 Election Year Policies, para. f (Prohibitions), subpara (4), sub-sub-para. (a))

I guess checking out the story is too much for the McCain media vultures who will do anything to pimp for the Dead Man Walking.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on July 27, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Not only will he lose the election, but he's going to wake up one morning and realize that he abandoned his dignity in the process. That's obviously something that's important to him,

I don't think so. He seems to know just what he's doing, and this kind of crap is just the standard operating procedure for guys on his side. Sure, it is undignified, but people like him grow up not caring about stuff like that. The only indignities people about him care about are things like being sent to prison, not being caught in a lie by people (the nation's liberals) who don't have a lot of power over them.

As for this,

I've never been a big John McCain fan. Even in the 2001-2004 era, when he was flirting with the left and opposing the most neanderthal elements in his own party, I didn't really warm to him.

To me, he mostly seemed like a standard issue conservative who had discovered a good schtick during the 2000 campaign and was milking it for all it was worth,

I think treating the Republicans' politicians at the national level as if bipartisanship is something that can be for real with them is all wrong. People who believe otherwise are just not wise to the reality of politics in this country nowadays, and to what's going on.

Posted by: Swan on July 27, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The only indignities people about him care about are things like being sent to prison, not being caught in a lie by people (the nation's liberals) who don't have a lot of power over them."

This should have said, "The only indignities people like him care about..."

Posted by: Swan on July 27, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans' political machine is like an internal, covert rebellion against this country conducted by a gang of people who are totally unqualified to govern a country like the United States in this day and age. They might be qualified to govern a country with much simpler problems (although that's probably too big an assumption, considering that they are so greedy and corrupt, and content themselves with doing whatever they feel confident that they can get away with) but they are totally unsuited to govern this one, and their using the methods they use to gain power (like the US attorney purge, misleading robocalls, taking over the media, etc.) certainly should be considered a wrong.

Posted by: Swan on July 27, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

The point of my post was that McCain was acting like a typical politician, and Kevin's concern for his dignity was silly.

Direct me to the presidential candidate who accused his opponent of deliberately setting out to lose an ongoing war in order to win the presidency. If this is, as you claim, typical of candidates running for president, you should have no difficulty identifying several candidates & their relevant quotes, but I'll be satisfied with one.

Posted by: junebug on July 27, 2008 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--please do a headliner about how it was the Pentagon that insisted Obama not visit the troops, although they did not tell him or his delgation until Wednesday--the day before he intended to see those wounded soldiers.

Let's try to nip that one here and now.
Others in the blogosphere might pick up on it more.

The right wing twist on the truth of the matter--and John MaCain's lying statements about Obama are pure propaganda.

Posted by: consider wisely always on July 27, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

And no, jerry, neither insinuations nor deliberately vague binaries ("You're either with us or you're against us") qualifies. McCain's words speak for themselves.

Posted by: junebug on July 27, 2008 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I think McCain to some degree likes looking like he cares about dignity and appearances and honor (or thinks looking that way is useful for him), but he doesn't really care about the things themselves.

Posted by: Swan on July 27, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Not only will he lose the election, but he's going to wake up one morning and realize that he abandoned his dignity in the process.

—Kevin Drum

McCain has never had any dignity. He is a common piece of garbage. Always has been.

Posted by: Econobuzz on July 27, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh junebug, you've outed me. John McCain is by far the worse Presidential Candidate we've ever had in terms of rhetoric, worse than Bush, worse than Reagan, worse than Wallace, worse than L. Johnson, he's just the worse, and though I am voting for Obama, it's all I can do to keep from sucking McCain's liver spotted cock.

I am curious though what your stance was a few months ago regarding Clinton. Obama called Clinton a bitchy female racist who would claw people when she got her period. Not quite treason, but not quite as ethical as your own junebuggy standards.

I told Kevin his concern for a politician's dignity is misplaced and makes his post weak. You seem to have a problem with that. If you want to have this fight, have it with someone who gives a shit about you.

Posted by: jerry on July 27, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary Clinton is a highly skilled politician with a ton of grassroots support. Barack Obama turned her into a ranting politician while Obama strode down the road with the wind at his back.

John McCain has no skills and no serious support from grassroot organizers. 100 days to go and we're already seeing him where it took Clinton 3 months to get to. He's got a big problem.

Posted by: glutz78 on July 27, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain gave up his dignity long ago and he knows it!

Posted by: tommy on July 27, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain has no skills and no serious support from grassroot organizers. 100 days to go and we're already seeing him where it took Clinton 3 months to get to. He's got a big problem.

And yet, given politics, the SCLM, and everything else, I give McCain at least a 50% chance of winning this election.

That's what frightens me.

Posted by: Paul on July 27, 2008 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I dont know McCain personally, but I would speculate he lost his dignity when he became known as PW songbird during his captivity.

MHR, Republicans said far worse things about McCain back in 2000, you may have even agreed with it at the time.

BTW MHR, you sound a bit loony when you project your opinions on others.

Posted by: on July 27, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe MHR can tell people what McCain does stand for while he waffles on every issue.

Posted by: Jet on July 27, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't like a sore winner but you folks sure sound like losers.

Wow ! Keep it up.

Posted by: Mike K on July 27, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

And yet, given politics, the SCLM, and everything else, I give McCain at least a 50% chance of winning this election.

How about McCain in the White House with an EC majority and a minority of the popular vote, facing a 59-41 Democratic Senate and a 250-185 Democratic House?

It's not inconceivable. Good times, good times.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 27, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall said the same thing about a year ago:

"Someone who is a master of the politics of opportunism can manage countless transformations. Not someone whose whole schtick is candor, authenticity and integrity. McCain is a good example of the fact that life can take almost everything away from you, and usually does. But your dignity you've got to give away. And he did."

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/160033.php

Posted by: Existenz on July 27, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall said the same thing about a year ago:

"Someone who is a master of the politics of opportunism can manage countless transformations. Not someone whose whole schtick is candor, authenticity and integrity. McCain is a good example of the fact that life can take almost everything away from you, and usually does. But your dignity you've got to give away. And he did."

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/160033.php

Posted by: Existenz on July 27, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa, who John McCain shoved and shouted obscenities at (details
here ), has said of McCain, “the more you get to know him, the less you like him”. I think this is true and Kevin and hopefully, most Americans also sense this. McCain is basically a bitter, self-absorbed, unlikeable man.

Look, I feel badly the guy spent five years in a Vietnamese prison. That must have sucked big-time. But that is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to being qualified to govern the most complex and diverse country in the history of mankind. When viewed in that context, there is no question that John McCain is the absolute wrong choice in the upcoming election.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Decency" is not a quality of a man who attacks his wife, and in public and so odiously no less. Not only is he indecent as a person but so are the Republicans who choose to overlook it.

Posted by: Bob M on July 27, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Where did he get the nickname "Walnuts"?

Posted by: DevilDog on July 27, 2008 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

I voted for him twice.He abandoned more than his dignity. He abandoned any claim to character and honour. He's done.

Posted by: Alan on July 27, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

. McCain is basically a bitter, self-absorbed, unlikeable man.

And Nixon missed narrowly once, was elected twice.

Do not underestimate the Spite Vote

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 27, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

John Keating McCain lost his dignity long ago. To save himself, he has tried to concont a facade of "pretend dignity," by attaching his name to campaign finance reforms, etc.

What you are seeing now is him tossing aside any pretense.

Posted by: bob5540 on July 28, 2008 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Obama called Clinton a bitchy female racist who would claw people when she got her period.

My paperboy must've missed the porch that day, but I'm sure you'll provide me the link for the quote to which you refer.

I told Kevin his concern for a politician's dignity is misplaced and makes his post weak. You seem to have a problem with that.

Um, no. After explaining how you dislike the term concern troll because it's "used as an ad hominem to dismiss arguments and de-humanize people," you proceeded to refer to Kevin as -- wait for it -- a concern troll because of his point that McCain's perfectly content to run a campaign straight out of the sewer. I have a problem with *that* because it makes me -- and everybody else who writes in agreement with Kevin's post -- a concern troll. If it bothers you when people expect some kind of support for the claims that you throw around -- e.g., claims of treason are typical of presidential candidates -- then don't make those claims.

That slamming the door & holding your breath part got you a 9 1/2 from the Taiwanese judge, though. Let's see you stick the landing next time.

Posted by: junebug on July 28, 2008 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

McCain? I thought Gen. Petraeus was the GOP candidate for president.

Posted by: lampwick on July 28, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

That stuff about running a respectful campaign can be added to McCain's long list of flip-flops.

Posted by: Novemberist on July 28, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Ahh, the gentle naivete of Kevin Drum, coming out of the Rip van Winkle sleep he entered just before Keating Five.

Kevin's message brought to you by the DLC.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 28, 2008 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

> I've never been a big John McCain fan

lol. Tell us something surprising.

> his desperation for the presidency

Kevin's attempt to spin everything McCain does as a sign of his "desperation" has already worn out. I shudder at how many more times we'll need to roll our eyes at it over the next few months.

New schtick, please.

Posted by: a on July 28, 2008 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Obama called Clinton a bitchy female racist who would claw people when she got her period.

My paperboy must've missed the porch that day, but I'm sure you'll provide me the link for the quote to which you refer.

...

After explaining how you dislike the term concern troll because it's "used as an ad hominem to dismiss arguments and de-humanize people," you proceeded to refer to Kevin as -- wait for it -- a concern troll because of his point...."

Junebug, I am sorry for picking on you, I didn't realize you actually ARE a retard. You seem pretty highly functioning, so well, congratulations I guess.

*plonk*

Posted by: jerry on July 28, 2008 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

April 5, 2007, written by Dick Cavett:

What Was He Thinking?
"Is it just me, or has the time come to get out the fool’s cap, dust it off and place it smartly on the head of John McCain?
What has happened to that man? He makes a nitwit public remark about the newly “safe” Baghdad in which Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the American forces in Iraq, saunters about without a helmet. When it is learned that the general, being of sound mind, goes out with a small army of Humvees and fully armed bodyguards, McCain is embarrassed.
He backtracks and rephrases weakly, insisting that he didn’t mean to say “without protection.” He should have left it at that and it would now be quite forgotten. Where were his advisors?
Instead, he hops a plane to Baghdad and proceeds to stage (the operative word) what must be one of the strangest travesties in modern political history.
We at home are treated to the sight of a gregarious McCain, shopping and giggling in the marketplace — and wearing no helmet. He is, however, clad in a flak jacket. What’s wrong with this picture? A man in a flak jacket selling safety?

Unseen, we learn, are a surrounding force of more than 100 soldiers armed for action, a small fleet of Humvees, strategically placed sharpshooters and streets blocked off for the theatrical occasion. Above are a Black Hawk and two combat helicopters. Did he think we would not find out the extent of this stunt, endangering not only the troops requisitioned for the performance but also the shopkeepers seen with him, marking them as America-friendly with the usual attendant results?
I pictured McCain as a furious movie director, chewing out his cameraman: “You goddamn idiot, you weren’t supposed to show the flak jacket, the soldiers, the armed might … Now I look like a consummate ass!”
Right.
What will daredevil McCain’s next stunt be? Driving in a Nascar race without a seatbelt?
I’ve tried to think of the appropriate caption for the shot of the bare head of the smiling McCain, there in blood-soaked Baghdad. How about “What, me worry?”
(We later learn that there just happened to be an attack an uncomfortably short time later on the very spot that Knievel John and his troupe of conscripted extras just vacated.)
May we return for a moment to the absent helmet? Makes our soldiers look a little sissy doesn’t it, feeling the need of this apparently dispensable piece of equipment? (Raises another question: could a helmetless head in a combat zone contain anything worth protecting?)
As background to this mindless event, we learn that before, during and after it, a hefty number of our soldiers have been killed, along with the usual boxcar load of civilians.
You hate to say it, but it’s hard to imagine even the “Bushies” coming up with such a silly and dangerous jape. It makes Rove & Co. look like statesmen. What politically does McCain hope to gain these days? What will the voters think? Mightn’t a presidential candidate so ardently cheerleading for the extension of this war fall equally in love with a future one?
*******
At a press conference a day or two earlier, the current president trotted out his oft-repeated remark about being “tired of the people in Congress who think they know more about war than the generals on the ground.” I wish a gutsy reporter would offer, “Mr. President, we are into our fifth year of this bloody war. Is it sacrilege to ask just what’s been so hot about the performance of our generals on the ground?”
And then there’s, “If we announce a departure date, the enemy will just hunker down until we leave.” Isn’t that what most of Iraq’s “army” also will do? (They’re referred to by our troops as the “Keystone Kops.” Except the Kops showed up for work.)
Doesn’t never announcing a date allow them to return to their hammocks and let G.I. Joe continue to absorb the bullets?
And finally, above the smoke and the blood and the flying body parts looms the figure of our elected leader, mouthing once again his favorite three-word phrase, “making good progress.”
Sir, what in the name of the sweet baby Jesus would bad progress look like?"

Ths same should be asked of McCain.

Posted by: worth your review on July 28, 2008 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's recent stunt holding hands with the Dahli Lama--the voice of non-violence--is just like Bush--formalizing a political photo opportunity, performing political posturing--just like Bush.
Yet McCain's views are the direct opposite of the peace-loving Dahli Lama. It is pure cognitive dissonance!!!
Reminiscent of Bush's surreal backdrop in New Orleans as he pledged support following Katrina, and the damn generators providing the lighting for the event disappeared as he left the scene. A mere photo op.
Similar to Bush surrounding himself with troops to appear patriotic for photos/news releases, there's McCain doing the same with veterans of foreign wars, and the oldsters that attend his so called town meetings.
Stage props, all.

Posted by: tired of political posturing by McCain on July 28, 2008 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

It is also significant that at the mature age of 47, in the year 1983, Mr. John McCain voted against a federal holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.
In fact, all three Arizona House Republicans were opposed.
This year, during the primary, it was a an appalling sight to see McCain giving a speech in Virginia about race, while an African American held an umbrella for McCain throughout that speech. McCain is so out of touch--did he not see the irony?????

McCain's routine has run outta gas.
He just does not think!!!
He is not equipped for the role of president.

Voting women--please note: Mysogynist McCain (doesn't he resembles Mr. Magoo!) rejects funding for childcare, for housing assistance, for community learning centers. He opposes comprehensive sex ed. Voted to defund Planned Parenthood (Vitter proposal), voted against rape survivors receiving emergency contraception, stated women NEED TRAINING AND EDUCATION, NOT EQUAL PAY LEGISLATION, his belief the Fair Pay Act would create too many law suits by women.

McCain is ridiculously out of touch.

Posted by: McCain is ridiculously out of touch on July 28, 2008 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

From crooksandliars.com: John McCain’s Top 10 “Out-of-Touch” Moments:

1. Economic downturn is “psychological.” Having on multiple occasions admitted his limited understanding of the economy, Senator McCain instead turned armchair psychologist to diagnose the U.S economic slowdown. In April, McCain told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that “a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological.” Apparently, four months of job losses, oil at $120 a barrel, record gas prices at the pump, 47 million uninsured and a devastating home foreclosure crisis are merely figments of Americans’ imaginations.

2. “Great progress economically” during the Bush years. If Americans’ financial woes are all in their heads, John McCain’s assessment of George W. Bush’s economic leadership is pure hallucination. Asked by Bloomberg’s Peter Cook on April 17 if Americans would say they are better off today “than before George Bush took office more than seven years ago,” McCain replied:

“I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there’s been great progress economically over that period of time.”

Mugged by reality, McCain’s firm response to the classic Ronald Reagan question (”are you better off now?”) lasted exactly 24 hours. The next day on April 18, the so-called maverick acknowledged Americans are “hurting badly” and concluded, “Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago.”

3. eBay is the answer for poverty and recession. During his so-called “Forgotten Places” tour last month, John McCain offered the people of the economically devastated regions in Martin County, Kentucky and Youngstown, Ohio a path out of financial desperation: eBay. “Today, for example,” McCain said, “1.3 million people in the world make a living off eBay, most of those are in the United State of America.” If that sounds like something McCain’s national campaign co-chair and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman might say, it’s because she did. In March, she told Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, “We have about - around the world, about 1.3 million people make most, if not all, of their living selling on eBay.” (It should come as no surprise that President Bush, too, extolled the virtues of Americans’ economic futures as sellers on eBay.)

4. “Tear down” New Orleans? McCain kicked off his tour in New Orleans, where he lambasted George W. Bush’s handling of the Katrina disaster. (As it turns out, McCain’s criticism was choreographed with the White House as part of a coordinated effort to create the facade of distance between McCain and President Bush.) There, McCain would not commit to the future of the city’s devastated 9th ward:

“That’s why we need to go back to have a conversation about what to do about it. Rebuild it? Tear it down? Ya know, whatever it is.”

Just three days later, McCain claimed selective amnesia about his New Orleans comments, saying, “I don’t remember ever saying it.” Perhaps John McCain remembers celebrating his 69th birthday with President Bush on August 29, 2005, just as Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore.

5. Irresponsible, undeserving homeowners. In his widely panned March 25th address on the economy, John McCain essentially blamed American homeowners teetering on the brink of foreclosure for their plight, insisting “any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t.” Facing a backlash, McCain just two weeks later on April 11 rolled out new proposals, claiming his “priority number one is to keep well meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes.” As the New York Times concluded:

In both tone and substance, Mr. McCain’s remarks were something of a departure from a speech the senator delivered last month in California in which he warned that “it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”

6. Work a second job, skip a vacation. In that same March 25, 2008 speech, the Republican nominee made it clear that selling Barbie dolls or Hummel figurines on eBay isn’t John McCain’s only prescription for Americans facing economic difficulties. The other? Just work harder. McCain encouraged Americans to emulate the 51 million homeowners “doing what is necessary — working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets — to make their payments on time.”

7. “Protect the privacy” of Cindy McCain’s tax returns. Asking cash-strapped, over-worked Americans to labor harder is easy to say for John McCain. After all, his beer heiress second wife Cindy has a fortune estimated at $100 million, more than enough to provide the candidate with private jets and still fund the McCain’s 8 homes and the charitable contributions funneled to the elite private schools attended by their children.

But asking John McCain to release his wife’s tax return is another matter. His campaign claims, “Cindy McCain will not release her tax returns to protect the privacy of her four children; details of their wealth are included in her filing.” Of course, in 2004, then RNC chairman and current Bush counselor Ed Gillespie insisted that the content of Theresa Heinz Kerry’s tax filings was “a legitimate question.” By a whopping 64% to 22% margin, Americans believe that John McCain should make public his wife’s tax information.

8. Opposed to SCHIP expansion, McCain speaks at children’s hospital. Last October, John McCain joined George W. Bush in opposing the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), calling Bush’s veto a “right call by the president.” Of course, that didn’t stop McCain from rolling out his health care proposals last week at Miami Children’s Hospital, a Florida medical institution which last fall publicly supported the S-CHIP expansion he opposed. In a further irony, while McCain decried “new mandates and government regulation,” 9 year-old Jake Bernard who was spotlighted at the event received treatment for his cleft palate thanks to a statute passed by the state of Florida. So much for McCain’s pledge to “work to eliminate the worries over the availability and cost of health care.”

9. Baghdad safer than some American neighborhoods. John McCain’s isn’t merely out of touch when it comes to Americans’ real lives at home. He is consistently nonchalant about the dangers – and casualties – U.S. troops face in Iraq.

Wearing a bulletproof vest and guarded by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead,” McCain on April Fool’s Day 2007 briefly toured a Baghdad market to demonstrate that the American people were “not getting the full picture.”

McCain recently claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.

In March 2008, Senator McCain returned to a tried and untrue Republican talking point: Iraq is no more dangerous than most major American cities. McCain announced, “There’s problems in America with safe neighborhoods as we well know.” In this case, at least, even McCain realized his statement was nonsensical on its face and sounded the retreat. “I’m not making that comparison, because it’s much more deadly in Iraq obviously,” he said, adding, “But it’s kind of the same theory.” Apparently, McCain’s theory applies whether the United States maintains a permanent military presence in Iraq for 100, 1000 or even a million years.

10. “I’m not running on the Bush presidency.” On April 1, 2008, John McCain offered Americans another April Fool’s joke, proclaiming “I’m not running on the Bush presidency.” McCain might want to check his campaign’s position papers. After all, in his eternal quest for the Republican nomination, McCain has adopted virtually the entire Bush agenda, often reversing long held positions and compromising supposed core principles. From Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthy, broken promises on the deficit to opposition to SCHIP, tax credits for health care, overturning Roe v. Wade and a right-wing Supreme Court, John McCain represents a third Bush term. It’s no wonder Mr. Straight Talk said in February:

“I would be proud to have President Bush campaign with me and support me in any way that he feels is appropriate. And I would appreciate it.”

So would we."

Posted by: What a fool McCain is on July 28, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

..."realize that he abandoned his dignity in the process."


"McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory." - June 2008

Posted by: Ross Perot on July 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

He's a man whore now. Do anything to be Preznit.

Posted by: jeff on July 28, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "... he always struck me as a basically decent person ..."

What exactly was it about McCain's long career of blatant, cynical, hypocritical corruption that struck you as "decent"?

Kevin wrote: "... Not only will he lose the election ..."

With the help of the corporate-owned mass media, and "sensible liberal" bloggers who opine that the career white-collar crook and bought-and-paid-for tool of corporate lobbyists John McCain is "basically decent", it will be a close election -- close enough for the Republicans to steal it through voter disenfranchisement and fraud as they did the last two presidential elections.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 28, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Naah. If he cared about his dignity, he would have long since looked at himself in the mirror and said "I didn't spend six years in the Hanoi Hilton for this."

My guess is, he acts like such a jerk because he really IS such a jerk. We've had another one like that recently...name is on the tip of my tongue...been president a long time now. The media thought he was charming too.

It probably means they are mostly jerks as well. Ho hum. What a surprise.

Posted by: bluewave on July 28, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

You know McCain's attacks are beginning to draw blood when the left begins their hysterical and senseless counter-attacks. The left's candidate is an utter lightweight and easily the most ignorant man ever to run for president. (The fool claimed that asthma patients use a breathalyzer for their treatment.) The left is absolutely petrified whenever their candidate leaves the safety of his teleprompter, but he can't always hide behind the teleprompter. The American people will soon learn what egomaniac and airhead that the dem party has nominated.

Posted by: Patrick on July 28, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, feel sorry for McCain, even though I've got every reason to loathe him. I'm a single parent of an adopted child - and we all know how he feels about the importance of a traditional families. My daughter is Vietnamese, and we all know how he feels about "gooks". But I think about him in prison: a stupid, obnoxious, crank-wagging American fly-boy who probably couldn't quite believe that he'd been shot down by people he thought were beneath his contempt. It was a situation he most probably never imagined he would find himself in, and yet he managed to survive and find some dignity in his suffering that he probably never suspected was there. In spite of his many faults as a man and politician, he always had that little bit of self-awareness for which he'd paid so dearly, and he's spent the last eight years frittering it away on crap. He lost a huge chunk of it when he hugged the man who had slandered his wife and child, and now during this campaign he's trampling the rest of it in the mud. I'm sorry for him, but I also fear that he'll find the trade-off worthwhile if and when he's sworn in as President next January.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on July 28, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

What dignity? The guy mocked a teenage Chelsea Clinton's physical appearance at a Republican fundraiser for some laughs. What kind of man does that?

Posted by: Gob on July 28, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Patrick's bona fides for calling Obama 'easily the most ignorant man to run for president' are established here.

He knows whereof he speaks -- pay him heed.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 28, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

"I'd rather be right than president."--Henry Clay, 1839

"Personally, I'd rather be president."--John sidney mcCain III, 2008

Posted by: rea on July 28, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

After McDodo's defeat in November he will feel betrayed, not that he abandoned his dignity. Psychopaths do not feel remorse.

Posted by: Brojo on July 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is the same prick he always was. What's different is that Kevin has an emotional investment in Obama and takes it personally when McCain attacks Obama.

Posted by: John Petty on July 28, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

McCain will win, regardless of what mistakes he makes and what he says, for 3 basic reasons:
1. The TV, outside a few big metro areas, will completely ignore McCain except to report whatever sounds good for him and bad for Obama;
2. Rich Republicans are mounting a vast under-the-radar program, via direct mail, automated telephone and other means, of slander, lies, scares, and rumors against Obama; it will succeed, especially since the press will largely ignore it;
3. If Obama gets close, Bush will arrange some sort of terror incident or claim. People seem to be hard-wired to require security before anything else, and to expect it most from whoever acts like the fiercest, meanest, most antagonistic hulk around. McCain wins on that score, hands down.

Posted by: Keith on July 28, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick: The fool [Obama] claimed that asthma patients use a breathalyzer for their treatment.

Good point. I will not take any patients with respiratory problems to Obama for treatment. Nor will I elect a president who still thinks the U.S. needs policies dealing with Czechoslovakia rather than the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Or who can't remember the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

Posted by: cowalker on July 28, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Keith, if We The People just won't stand for that, it can be stopped.

Posted by: Neil B. ☼ on July 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

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