How Shitty Was McCain?
Yes, the last couple of weeks of the campaign, even from my remote perch, were pretty uninspiring on the GOP side. Here's my brief take, for what it's worth. Obama's fortnight was an objectively miraculous one: Maliki and then (almost) Bush endorsed his withdrawal timetable from Iraq (game, set and match to BO), he conducted himself with foreign leaders flawlessly, burnished his international rep, and proved the force of his soft power potential. (By the way, 200,000 in Berlin was less, it seems to me, about the celebrity of Obama than about the disaster of Bush-Cheney. Obama is the vehicle for the world's hope for the return of the America they remember.) But the flipside of this kind of success is always an attempt to take the dude down a few pegs and I can't get too worked up about that. Of course a candidate being greeted the way Obama was in Europe will prompt a raspberry from the back-row when he gets back home. I don't see anything that awful about that. It's actually quite healthy in a democracy.
Still, it also had the hallmarks of the usual boomer dust-ups. The arrogant-celebrity meme is a variation on the usual Rovian fare: empty of actual policy substance but evocative of playground loyalties and resentments. Basically, McCain called Obama a girl, to appeal to the jocks, and then called him arrogant to flatter the nerds.
Paris Hilton is a two-fer. Choosing a female celebrity is integral to the usual attempt to feminize the Democrat. I could see nothing racist whatever in the message, mind you, but it was, as Weaver noted, pretty asinine.
Less asinine was McCain's two-pronged lie that Obama would rather lose a war than a campaign and that he snubbed injured troops in Germany. The former is repulsive and you can tell McCain knows it because he has a weird habit of saying it and then grinning broadly and humming a little to himself as a semi-laugh. He doesn't own the statement even as he says it. The charge itself is about as uncivil as it is possible to be, close to calling Obama treasonous, right? And the troop snub jibe is simply, demonstrably untrue, as the McCain camp was forced to semi-concede.
So McCain's main moves these past two weeks have been either childish or disgusting, and both times he has signaled he didn't really believe his own message.
He doesn't seem like a serious president to me.
(Cartoon from yesterday's WaPo by the great Tom Toles.)