Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stay classy, John McCain

By Michael J.W. Stickings

John McCain has a long history of being a jerk. Two recent cases in point:

1) When asked by George Stephanopoulos today, via Twitter, what he thought of his daughter Meghan's "feud" with right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham (about which we've posted here and here) and right-wing sexpot Ann Coulter (about which we've posted here) -- McCain said only this: "I'm proud of my daughter and she has a right to her opinions."

When asked whether he agreed with Meghan's opinions, he only said this: "[L]ike any family we agree on some things and disagree on others."

Translation: McCain does not agree with his daughter.

But what "opinions" are we talking about? Meghan criticized Ann Coulter for being "offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time" and said that "there's an extreme on both parties and I hate extreme."

That's all.

As McCain apparently does not agree with his daughter, he must believe that there is not in fact extremism in both parties. He surely believes that there is extremism in the Democratic Party, though, so what he must mean is that there is no extremism in the Republican Party, which is to say, that the likes of Coulter and Ingraham, not to mention Dear Leader Rush, as well as their views, are not extreme. Similarly, he must believe that Coulter is neither offensive nor radical nor insulting. This from a man who throughout his long career has fashioned himself an independent, a maverick, above the partisan political fray.

Now, it may be that McCain does agree with his daughter but doesn't want to admit that he does, perhaps for partisan political reasons of his own. You know, because the Republican Party, his party, has been taken over by extremists to whom he must now pander, or to whom he thinks he must now pander, if he is to have a future in the party, a future of any significance and influence.

Again, so much for the self-made, media-enabled mythology on which he's been coasting. McCain is a coward or a hypocrite, or both, as well as a shameless opportunist. The mythology has always been a facade covering a partisan and self-aggrandizing core, but at least, at the very least, he used to speak out against the radicals in his party, including the theocrats. He may not always have been an admirable man, but from time to time he did and said admirable things. He sold his soul for the Republican presidential nomination and played to the far right with Palin and his pandering campaign, and now, having lost, the pandering continues.

Whatever he really thinks of his party's extremists and extremism, he's playing right along.

But that's not the worst part.

As a father, should he not have been critical of Ingraham's personal attacks on his daughter? Ingraham basically called her a "plus-sized" dimwit, after all. Could he not have spoken in her defence? Could he not have said that such attacks are simply not acceptable?

What a classy guy. What a great father. What a jerk.

2) And how about this?

As Stephanopoulos writes: "McCain said it is 'too early' to tell if President Obama has put the nation at risk of a terror attack, refusing to agree or reject Cheney's recent comments" (about which we've posted here and here).

Too early to tell?

No, McCain didn't go as far as Cheney did, but it was reckless and irresponsible fearmongering nonetheless, not least coming from a supposed national security expert, and, while presented as a neutral observation coming from a non-partisan authority, it was just as partisan a smear, in its own way, as anything Cheney said -- in fact, it was worse, given that McCain has more credibility than Cheney outside the conservative insanitarium.

But how exactly is it "too early" to tell. Does McCain now believe that banning torture, closing Gitmo, and putting an end to Bush-Cheney abuses of power could make America less safe? What else has Obama done to warrant McCain's skepticism? I can understand how Cheney is opposed to Obama's policies, but McCain?

Could it be that McCain has always been much more like Cheney than he's ever cared to admit? Could it be that, like Rush, he wants Obama to fail?

At the very least, McCain has once again exposed the partisan core that has always been his driving force.

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