Anne Applebaum and Joe Klein, like countless others, cannot support McCain because of his repulsive, vicious, negative, McCarthyite campaign and his unvetted spur-of-the-moment decision to pick Sarah Palin, an unhinged, know-nothing, delusional religious fanatic, as his veep. But Mickey argues that none of this matters - because McCain is really a good government liberal who just had to be mean to stand a chance. Does Mickey really believe that? Does he believe that McCain's campaign and his pick of Palin tell us nothing about what kind of president he'd be? Does he believe that we have learned nothing about McCain's character in this campaign or that character is irrelevant in a president?
Mickey, of course, is obsessed with immigration and believes that McCain would actually support a Bush-style immigration law were he to win next week. Really? Really? You see: what I've learned from watching McCain these past two months is that there's nothing he wouldn't do if it could get him a small bump in a news cycle, polarize the electorate, and appeal to a rabid base that is now his only source of power.
In my view, McCain would clearly be prepared to veto such a bill if it helped bring his party base behind him. He would also have a veep who is running from Day One to succeed him and eager to play the most revanchist elements in her base against her boss. She'd become an anti-immigration hawk as soon as you can say "you betcha" - especially if threatened by a Dobbsian primary challenger in 2012. I mean: if she's prepared to undermine him in a national campaign, when he's the only reason she isn't still padding her expense account in Alaska, why wouldn't she do it in office? One thing we have also learned from the campaign is that Palin would work to undermine McCain from the very start. I think even the McCain camp has figured that out by now.
As for McCain, we have seen how he deals with what were once his principles. Balancing the budget? He caved to Bush's tax cuts and proposes to increase the deficit more than a liberal Democrat in his first term. Torture? He agreed to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, thereby legalizing the very torture techniques that were once used against him. Climate change? He picked a veep who doesn't believe it's man-made. When people talk about this man's honor, they need to grapple with these facts. If McCain is prepared to authorize the torture of other human beings, to do to others what was once done to him in order to help Karl Rove's 2006 election strategy, there is nothing deep down inside him but a desire for power, no line he won't cross.
My view is that McCain has shown his character in this campaign: it's vicious, petty, lazy, reckless, vain and dishonorable. Campaigns do that. They reveal who someone really is. And Mickey's pathetic anti-anti-McCain schtick is part of his own "convenient cover for some unstated, perhaps unconscious, pro-McCain imperative (or maybe simply for the imperative to come to a decision)."
(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty.)
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