Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain 2.0

Christopher Buckley, the son of a fairly notable American conservative, speaks out for Obama (and, more volubly, against McCain):
I have known John McCain personally since 1982. I wrote a well-received speech for him. Earlier this year, I wrote in The New York Times—I’m beginning to sound like Paul Krugman, who cannot begin a column without saying, “As I warned the world in my last column...”—a highly favorable Op-Ed about McCain, taking Rush Limbaugh and the others in the Right Wing Sanhedrin to task for going after McCain for being insufficiently conservative. I don’t—still—doubt that McCain’s instincts remain fundamentally conservative. But the problem is otherwise.

McCain rose to power on his personality and biography. He was authentic. He spoke truth to power. He told the media they were “jerks” (a sure sign of authenticity, to say nothing of good taste; we are jerks). He was real. He was unconventional. He embraced former anti-war leaders. He brought resolution to the awful missing-POW business. He brought about normalization with Vietnam—his former torturers! . . .

But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. . . . His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

All this is genuinely saddening, and for the country is perhaps even tragic, for America ought, really, to be governed by men like John McCain—who have spent their entire lives in its service, even willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to it. If he goes out losing ugly, it will be beyond tragic, graffiti on a marble bust.
If John McCain had been the Republican nominee in 2000, there's a pretty good chance I would have voted for him. So I'm no natural enemy of his. But it boggles my mind that people can speak of him as if the past two or three months hadn't happened. The Bill Ayers question is a legitimate one, as far as it goes, but that's not nearly as far as the McCain campaign is insinuating. I was speaking to a friend of my father's (and mine) on the phone this morning. He's someone who built his own business into a great success. He's been a fan of Obama from the beginning, but I would hardly say he's a raging liberal -- more of an intelligent contrarian, and someone with a bullshit detector that can pick up signals from other galaxies. He was worked up about McCain's tactics, and he said that in an ideal world, Obama would confront him at the next debate with something like this, which I'm paraphrasing: Look, I'm going to be the next president, so you don't have to worry about that. Just tell me, do you want to be on record, especially at this point in history, saying that the president of the U.S. has terrorist leanings? Is that what you're accusing me of? What are you doing?



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