Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain Campaign, You're Fired

You’ve got to admire the doe-eyed optimism of William Kristol. Okay, maybe not so much admire it as get a well-deserved chuckle out of it.

Kristol wrote an op-ed of advice for the McCain campaign today. It recommends he completely re-tool his approach, fire his campaign and send them to work on local voter drives, start shooting from the hip with real and difficult honesty, and stop attacking Obama (not because that is the right thing to do but only because the attacks have been ineffectual). Kristol claims that McCain and Palin are affable, competent campaigners that are being held back by their campaign’s strategy.

I think what Kristol is failing to acknowledge is the difference between McCain’s carefully-crafted image and his essential character. He wants McCain to run as a happy, confident leader. While Kristol acknowledges that there are reason for that lack of confidence that McCain would have to overlook, he completely misses that fact that McCain is in fact not a happy man. He is and always has been an angry, bitter man. His outbursts of temper are legendary; he called his second wife a “cunt” in public, an action I’m sure would have me looking for a second wife were I ever to try it with my first. Happy people are at peace, but the uber-hawkish McCain doesn’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s dick about peace. He wants to bomb Iran, stay in Iraq forever, and maybe go back to Southeast Asia to finish the job.

That’s not a happy man. Neither is McCain the kind of honest man that could take up Kristol’s suggestions for rhetorical stance.

I suppose the real reason I’m posting Kristol’s column is just as an example of the movement-wide myopia of the Right. Call it strength or weakness, because it has certainly acted as both, but Democrats have always been able to recognize the very real shortcomings of their candidates, to view them in a realistic, if optimistic, light. But the Right seems intent on having only heroic figures for leaders, paragons of perfection, even if that means they have to cut these images from whole cloth.

Kristol’s column reads as folksy, tough-love wisdom, but it is nothing of the sort. It is a public declaration by a leading voice on the Right that he, and the rest of his party, are unwilling and unable to see the reality of the candidates they endorse.

Fair or not, a candidate is his campaign. Trying to blame the campaign for the failings of the candidate is just an attempt to detach McCain’s agency, to absolve him of responsibility for his slide. A classic move to “mistakes were made,” ignoring that mistakes don’t happen on their own, that they are committed by an agent of action.

And the agent’s name is John McCain.

1 comment:

Deni said...

Nice post JJ.

I always take a deep breath every Monday morning when I open the NYT and try to make it through one of Kristol's columns. His point of view is so ludicrous that it is difficult.

It could be claimed that hiring Kristol is part of the New York Times' "liberal bias" since he only makes conservatives look pretty stupid.