Posted by: mutantpoodle | September 30, 2008

Off the deep end

I’m not sure what Monday’s indelible image was for me: was it John McCain, accompanying Sarah Palin to the principal’s Katie Couric’s office to decry gotcha journalism as practiced by a voter in a pizza place, or, having invested his mavericky political capital in saving the country from financial ruin, watching the deal for which he’d claimed false credit go down in flames when his own party bailed on it.

I will say this for McCain: he’s efficient. After all, if you’re going to claim that this isn’t the time to affix blame for a serious problem, make sure you’ve already blamed your opponent. Senator?

Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame, it’s time to fix the problem.

I’m not dumb enough to believe that other events can’t come up that would accrue to John McCain’s benefit, although after last Friday’s debate, people see less of an advantage to McCain on foreign policy than they did before. But this has been an extraordinarily bad week for McCain, and he seems to be flailing; his running mate is a national embarrassment at a time when people want leaders who will, if not inspire them, at least reassure them. And McCain’s dripping contempt for Barack Obama isn’t doing him any favors.

John Cole noted last week, after McCain had abandoned his “no campaign and debate until the crisis is resolved” gimmick of the week, that McCain wasn’t the first one to lose it against Obama:

McCain set an ultimatum, Obama told him to piss off.

Such a bunch of tossers. I really do not know what it is that Obama does, whether he has some sort of amazing kung-fu, but he just drives his opposition insane. Now granted, the folks in the McCain campaign were sort of unhinged to begin with, but they are in full meltdown mode right now. The McCain campaign right now reminds of the Clinton campaign in its death throes, when surrogates like Geraldine Ferraro were out there making an ass out of themselves on a daily basis and Hillary was running her White People Won’t Vote For Him Tour and bringing up RFK and the like. They are just sort of running around doing random crazy shit, hoping it works. Monday it was a full frontal assault on the media, Wednesday it was “suspending” the campaign, and who knows what today will bring.

Something Obama does just drives his opposition into madness.

What he does is respond on his terms, and not yours, and it’s not that he’s unwilling to engage you – he’s just incredibly gifted at doing so while appearing above the fray. And so your frustration builds, and, even if you’re not the undisciplined, short-tempered type, you’ll throw a wild haymaker, miss, and then get slammed in the face by the Obama counter-punch.

Of course, John McCain is the undisciplined, short-tempered type. And now you’re seeing the results. So is the rest of the country, and it’s costing McCain dearly.

The irony of this election is that the Republican base was always unsure of McCain because he wasn’t seen as a dependable “conservative” – whatever they think that means these days. Palin brought them back into the fold, but is scaring the hell out of independents and pissing off and energizing Democrats. And now McCain – who those same independents and Democrats thought of as a principled and reassuring presence (even if they disagreed with him at times) – is demonstrating how unsafe, unprincipled, and frightening he is. That bell, rung, cannot now be unrung.

McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis was quoted – and derided by the Obama camp – for saying that this election wouldn’t be about the issues, but “about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic if he was right, and that “composite view” tipped the election to Barack Obama.

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