THE UGLY NEW MCCAIN

The Ugly New McCain By Richard Cohen
Wednesday, September 17, 2008;

Following his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain did something extraordinary: He confessed to lying about how he felt about the Confederate battle flag, which he actually abhorred. “I broke my promise to always tell the truth,” McCain said. Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised.

The precise moment of McCain’s abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on “The View,” the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running. One deliberately mischaracterized what Barack Obama had said about putting lipstick on a pig — an Americanism that McCain himself has used. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergarteners.

“We know that those two ads are untrue,” Behar said. “They are lies.”

Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like “Home Cooking” or “We Will Not Be Undersold.” Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation “I approve this message” was just boilerplate. But he didn’t.

“Actually, they are not lies,” he said.

Actually, they are.

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains — his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that’s all — but just as honorably. No more, though.

I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician’s lap.

Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.

At a forum last week at Columbia University, McCain said, “But right now we have to restore trust and confidence in government.” This was always the promise of John McCain, the single best reason to vote for him. America has been cheated on too many times — the lies of Vietnam and Watergate and Iraq. So many lies. Who believes that in Afghanistan last month, only five civilians were killed by the American military in an airstrike, instead of the approximately 90 claimed by the Afghan government? Not me. I first gave up on the military during Vietnam and then again when it covered up the death of Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former NFL player who was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.

McCain was going to fix all that. He was going to look the American people in the eyes and say, not me. I will not lie to you. I am John McCain, son and grandson of admirals. I tell the truth.

But Joy Behar knew better. And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can — as he did in South Carolina — renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won’t work. Karl Marx got one thing right — what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both.

The Ugly New McCain By Richard Cohen
Wednesday, September 17, 2008;

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5 Responses

  1. Hello Judy,
    I watched that interview on ‘The View’. I guess I did not see it the same way. I feel both candidates ads are very bad. They both have turned a corner and made it ugly.
    Because Senator Obama seems to dodge a question by talking around it, it appears he is not lying, when if you look at facts he is.
    The coongress has been Democratic since 2006, what have they done for the people lately. There approval rating is less than George Bush. Senator Obama was elected into that Congress that was to save us from the Republican Congress. The biggest issue he has done is Campaign for the office of President.
    Since I am not a google member it will say this is anonymous. This response is not. It is from me
    Deanna Kelly.

  2. I have a couple of thoughts on this. Both of John McCain’s comments about Obama ARE true, maybe out of context, maybe with a distorted meaning, but true. Such is politics. Before you shoot McCain consider that his opponent is just as guilty and maybe many times over.

    What puzzles me most are the comments about Palin. She was sought after to buck the system, to be an outsider, a maverick. She is supposed to represent new ideas and a fresh approach. But help me with this. How is Barrack obama more prepared or qualified than Sarah Palin? Actually, it is not even a contest.

    So you don’t like McCain’s performance on the View, enemy territory. For his comments on that pathetic version of television you would dismiss his years of service, his accomplishments, his heroics, his superior plan for America. I don’t think I’m with you on this one Darlin’.

  3. John Cohen did not like the performance,, that is who wrote the article. Cohen has been a long time McCain supporter and I found the article interesting and well written.

    I too saw the show on the 12th and I saw some tap dancing concerning an American saying which should never have been an issue in the first since both parties use it.

    I used to like John McCain but for him to pick Sarah Palin is an insult because he just wants to satisfy the uber conservatives and women can not be “assumed” to vote for a candidate just because she is a woman.

    Obama has been a senator since 1997 long before the “democratic” takeover in 2006. In Illinois, He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations. During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms.

    In congreess As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel

    As for Palin besides being Phyllis Schaffley on crack, she has her own backward agenda that I personally do not like being a heartbeat away from the presidential office.

    Palin, being able to see Russia from her house, running a town the size of DeKalb and a state the population of a Chicago Suburb, does not make you experienced in foriegn affairs, federal bugets, how the senate and congress work. It would be the same as having Don DeWitte run the White House. Nice guy but aside from being on the board of the RiverFest and approving liquor licenses, not much experience there.

    Experience comparisons between Obama and Palin? I thought Obama was running against McCain not Palin but I guess this is what this circus has gotten to be.

  4. I’m tired of hearing how the Democrats have been in power and haen’t done anything. To start with, they are only a majority in the House. Second, they have been a majority in the house for less than 2 years, not enough time to undo the 8 years of Republican damage and almost 8 years of a greedy, corrupt, and dishonest executive branch. Obama may not havve experience, but after the active damage George Bush did to America’s standing, economy, environment, and civil rights, I am not going to ote for a man who has agreed with Bush oer 90% of the time and still has the nerve to call himself a maverick. And to pick a ultra-right wing VP whose ideas on sex education couldn’t even prevent a teenage pregnancy in her own family, who also lies, who will take money she doesn’t deserve (she flipflopped on the bridge to nowhere – but kept the money anyway) – that shows a complete lack of judgement in providing us with a thoughtful, intelligent who has a fairly good chance of having to assume the presidency. W’s policies has sold us to China, lowered our standard of living, put us deeply in debt by invading a country that posed no threat to us – we can’t take 4 more years of damaging the US.

  5. I apologize for not reading more closely and not realizing that you didn’t write this piece.

    But I have to say that I find it funny that so many people I know that would clearly be described as liberal, want to play both sides. If you could vote for Obama, the most liberal senator in the senate,and if you are pro-abortion, in favor of socialist health care, affirmative action and reverse discrimination,higher taxes, gay marriage, not using our own resources to get some help with our dependency on foreign oil, and admitting defeat in Iraq or worse, and refusing to admit the surge worked, and mix that with hate talk instead of talking about the issues, then you might be a liberal.

    And I won’t even try to contrast Palin’s record that includes an 80% approval rating as governor, to Obama’s because I’m sure we would not see eye to eye. I suppose “Phyllis Schaffley on crack” is not a personal attack and deals strictly with the issues. Obama might as well run against Palin. His record cannot possibly compare to McCain’s, and it doesn’t really do well against Palin’s. Face it. Liberal women have no idea which way to go with Sarah Palin. I find it ironic that they come up with these lame personal attacks instead of just saying that they totally disagree with her on issues. The liberal ladies are running for cover. Thay don’t know what to do about Sarah Palin. She is a threat to their version of feminism. As I said before, punch her, hit her, and call names, but she will not cave.

    Oh, and by the way, as I accused you of incorrectly, I will accuse Cohen of the same. For him to dismiss McCain because of his performance on the View, is so trivial that he surely harbors another agenda. Really, that makes no sense at all.

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