Posted by: mutantpoodle | September 6, 2008

Joe Klein is pissed

joe_kleinJoe Klein has, quite clearly, had it. His disaffection from John McCain started with McCain’s sleazy summer campaign against Barack Obama’s “celebrity.”

A few months ago, I wrote that John McCain was an honorable man and he would run an honorable campaign. I was wrong. I used to think, as David Ignatius does, that McCain’s true voice was humble and moderate, but now I’m beginning to think his Senate colleagues may be right about his temperament. From what I can gather, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, a Republican, reflected the views of many of his colleagues earlier this year when he said:

“The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine…He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

It continued when McCain was – how would we put this – a dick when asked fairly simple questions by two reporters for Time, including this exchange:

Jumping around a bit: in your books, you’ve talked about what it was like to go through the Keating Five experience, and you’ve been quoted as saying it was one of the worst experiences of your life. Someone else quoted you as saying it was even worse than being a POW …

That’s another one of those statements made 17 or 18 years ago which was out of the context of the conversation I was having. Of course the worst, the toughest experience of my life was being imprisoned, so people can pluck phrases from 17 or 18 years ago ..

I wasn’t suggesting it as a negative thing. I was just saying that …

I’m just suggesting it was taken out of context. I understand how comments are taken out of context from time to time. But obviously, the toughest time of my life, physically and [in] every other way, would be the time that I almost died in prison camp. And I think most Americans understand that.

Sadly for McCain, Joe Klein was there:

For the record, I was one of the journalists McCain talked to about his anguish during the Keating Five episode. He believed he was unfairly accused–included because the other four were Democrats and the Democratic majority in the Senate needed the scandal to appear bipartisan. (I interviewed several of his Democratic colleagues who backed his version of events at the time–and he was found to be innocent of any wrongdoing.) But he did say to me–I remember this very clearly; it was at the Republican Convention in 1996 and it was not out of context–that the Keating Five episode was harder, in some ways, than being a prisoner of war because his honor had been called into question. He said there were some days that he was so bummed he could barely leave the house. I took these remarks as strong evidence of McCain’s candor and humanity–they were the sort of thing few other politicians would have the guts to say–and it’s very sad that that iteration of John McCain, the mensch, has disappeared into the maw of his angry candidacy.

…and now, in the wake of the Palin maelstrom, the McCain campaign’s claims that the mainstream media have merged with the tabloids are

…hogwash. The vast bulk of mainstream media reporting has been about Palin’s record as a public servant and her personal beliefs as a politician. The tabloid media are treating her precisely as the tabloid media treat everybody. Steve Schmidt has done a brilliant–fabulously dishonest–job of setting up straw men, but it’s a smokescreen to hide the fact that McCain rushed into this choice and didn’t vet her properly. All these vast requests for personal information about Palin’s family have produced–what? No major news outlet has gone with the various personal rumors that Schmidt is trying to promote. Only Sally Quinn and a few others raised the question of whether Palin should be home taking care of the children–although when the noted feminist Rudy Giuliani made that a part of his speech, the cable networks suddenly took it up, in their reliably Pavlovian fashion.

Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s that I’ve seen this act so often before, maybe it’s that the people I talk to when I go out on the road really are having a harder time paying for things like health care, gasoline and college tuition, but I’m finding the Republican attempts to derail the conversation from the actual state of the country really depressing and disgraceful this year. They practice Orwellian politics of the crudest sort. They are trying to sell a big lie–that the election is about the social issues of the 1960s, or Barack Obama’s patriotism or his eloquence, or the “angry left,” when it’s really about turning toward a more moderate path after the ideological radicalism and malfeasance of the past eight years.

This is a guy who used to like McCain. And now, McCain, in losing his humanity, has lost him forever.

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