Friday, September 05, 2008

The Real McCain

[Another insightful article from the New York Times. This is how I felt about McCain's schizophrenic speech: a speech that wanted to be everything, including both bipartisan and bitterly partisan.]

The Real John McCain

By the time John McCain took the stage on Thursday night, we wondered if there would be any sign of the senator we long respected — the conservative who fought fair and sometimes bucked party orthodoxy.

Certainly, the convention that nominated him bore no resemblance to that John McCain. Rather than remaking George W. Bush’s Republican Party in his own image, Mr. McCain allowed the practitioners of the politics of fear and division to run the show.

Thursday night, Americans mainly saw the old John McCain. He spoke in a moving way about the horrors he endured in Vietnam. He talked with quiet civility about fighting corruption. He said the Republicans “had lost the trust” of the American people and promised to regain it. He decried “the constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving” problems.

But there were also chilling glimpses of the new John McCain, who questioned the patriotism of his opponents as the “me first, country second” crowd and threw out a list of false claims about Barack Obama’s record, saying, for example, that Mr. Obama opposed nuclear power. There was no mention of immigration reform or global warming, Mr. McCain’s signature issues before he decided to veer right to win the nomination.

In the end, we couldn’t explain the huge difference between the John McCain of Thursday night and the one who ran such an angry and derisive campaign and convention — other than to conclude that he has decided he can have it both ways. He can talk loftily of bipartisanship and allow his team to savage his opponent.

What makes that so vexing — and so cynical — is that this is precisely how Mr. Bush destroyed Mr. McCain’s candidacy in the 2000 primaries, with the help of the Karl Rovian team that now runs Mr. McCain’s campaign.


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