Sunday, November 12, 2006

Meet the Press: Shooting Straight in the Dark

If President Bush campaigned during the run-up to the midterm elections like it was 2004, baiting John Kerry's bluster as a last-minute tactic for GOP victory, on today's Meet the Press Senator John McCain picked a different race to run-- McCain's gonna run like it's 1999.

On a wide array of issues, whether Iraq, energy independence or the economy, McCain responded to Tim Russert's assertive questioning as if the events of the last six years were a mere nightmare from which America could easily awake, as opposed to the horrific reality that exists on the ground just outside of that Republican State of Denial. Iraq? More troops. Ethanol? Only worth exploring if oil is more than $10 a barrel. Minimum wage? Small businesses interests' trump the workers' needs. John McCain sounded like a candidate with the full trust of the American people, and acted like a Republican that was magically distinct from all of those that lost on November 7th. There was no indication that the last six years of secrecy, dissembling and dictatorial governance by the Bush Administration have impacted McCain. "Government changed us, we didn't change government," McCain oddly noted as a reason for GOP defeat. Doesn't this "us" include John McCain? It was hard not to wonder where exactly, besides setting up the framework for a White House run (and hitting up Jerry Falwell for base-centric "reconciliation"), the Senator has been hiding out while the rest of the Republicans spent and schemed the Party into ruin.

Maybe McCain's over-confidence made sense when the Straight Talk Express was pounding the pavement, but like McCain, America has changed somewhat since the 2000 presidential election. From the moment the war began Americans have been told, by men proud of their resumes and resolve, to sit back and trust their collective judgment. The "failed policy" McCain kept mentioning was developed by a group of conservatives that the Senator has already begun to seduce in his effort to become the GOP front-runner in 2008, a group that refuses to acknowledge that steady hubris leads to steady chaos. If McCain believes that he will need to seriously approach the electorate with substantive reasoning behind his position on Iraq, this was not evident today. Referring with knowing self-satisfaction to his "experience" in war, McCain called for more troops in Iraq, and soon, noting that Joe Lieberman's Connecticut Senate victory proves "some Americans" support our continued presence in Iraq (too bad that those "some Americans" are Connecticut Republicans and no one else, but no matter) and explicitly ignoring the stance of a strong majority of the nation at-large.

The most interesting moment came when McCain explained Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's anti-American words and behaviors both before and after the U.S. election as simple opportunistic gestures required of a leader who must cover his bases when unsure of his allies. "I can understand why he took the position that he did," McCain noted. Of course McCain understands. It's just like going down there to Liberty University--sometimes you need a Falwell, and sometimes you don't. It all depends on what's best for your personal power. Straight talk, indeed.

[Note: Russert was true to his word with Don Imus, using a line of questioning to impliedly reveal that McCain did in fact blindly exploit John Kerry's "do your homework" joke by refusing to read Kerry's entire statement in context and also refusing to consider John Kerry's character and service to his country. A sad truth.]

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