Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Respect, in the world of John McCain

TPM has an excellent mashup video of John McCain's vocal promises not to campaign dirty intercut with some of his muddy campaign ads. Much has been made of McCain's "Comprehensive Sex Ed" ad, which gets a lot play at TPM. Critics and admirers alike have admitted that in an age of spin, this ad is particularly misleading. That's because it's not just spin, it's an outright lie.

McCain's political vileness is especially disturbing because he doesn't believe it himself. McCain is too smart to believe that Obama is in the terrorists' pocket, that skin color makes a difference to a man's ability to lead, or that Gwen Ifill (collateral damage in McCain's world) doesn't know how to moderate a free and fair debate.

He's only saying these things because he wants to win. Negative ads scare voters towards the incumbent, and McCain is as close to an incumbent as we're going to get in this election.

McCain wasn't always this way. One of the reasons that he, a relatively sprightly 62-year-old at the time, got so thoroughly run-over by W in the 2000 Republican primaries was because he wasn't willing to get down in the dirt. McCain and W shook hands and made a TV promise to run a "gentleman's campaign." Immediately thereafter, the W campaign aired some of the vilest anti-McCain ads in the history of inter-party squabbling. McCain, a man who once chose physical torture over giving up his principles, was hamstrung by W's move. Why else would McCain have lost those primary runs back in '00? He was one of the most trusted politicians in America at the time, and his governing experience dwarfed W's (a man whom even native Texans acknowledged wasn't that great a leader).

The experience taught McCain to hit back. But these days, he's not just hitting back, he's hitting first.

No comments: