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I Really Want to Like John McCain - Mo's Journal
October 21st, 2008
09:30 am

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I Really Want to Like John McCain
I'd never vote for him, since I think his policies have always been wrongheaded conservative crap, but I've really admired him. And liked him, to the extent you can like people you don't know at all. You know, like I like Dick Van Dyke and Paul Krugman and Anna Quindlen and K.D. Lang and David Patterson and dislike Martha Stewart and George Bush and Woody Allen (whom I used to like) and Christopher Hitchens and Shmuely Boteach, to give examples from a variety of fields.

I liked John McCain for being charming and funny, for having principles he seemed to care about, for admitting when he didn't live up to them and trying to make amends, for playing nicely in the Senate with both Republicans and Democrats, for his devotion to Mo Udall, for his friendship with David Ifshin, for his championing of campaign finance reform, for his intelligence and breadth of general knowledge. I thought he was wrong on most policy issues, but I thought he was honest about what he believed in and basically a decent human being. And just so goddamn charming that you could almost get persuaded he was right about things you knew he was totally wrong on. Obama was not my first choice for nominee but I was sure glad he was going to be ours when it turned out McCain was going to be the Republican nominee - you need to fight charm with charm.

I mostly can't recognize the John McCain I liked in this campaign. He's lost his sense of humor, his charm, his integrity, his judgment. He's turned into an angry, cranky, erratic, nasty and thoroughly unappealing guy. I don't know why he did this. Well, I guess I do know - he thought it would win him the presidency. As Bob Herbert says, McCain "placed his principles in a blind trust once the presidential race heated up." And I think that's a crying shame. I also think it will lose him the election. I certainly hope he loses, but I wish he had lost as John McCain 1.0.

I hope we get that guy back in the Senate after the election. I saw glimpses of him at the Alfred E. Smith dinner and on Letterman last week, so I know he's still in there, somewhere.

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From:tarchannon
Date:October 21st, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
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I think you stated this perfectly, and I completely agree.

My major problem with McCain in the post-election scenario revolves around how can you trust, or even like, someone that's clearly abandonned their life long principles - even if only temporarily? It perturbs me and makes me sad that someone like McCain would look at the polling, as seeing that he didn't have the votes, would just forget the rest of his life and make the run for the far right. It's... sad and pathetic. And agreeing to take on Palin? That's just crazy.
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From:rae_1985
Date:October 21st, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
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I saw him on Letterman right after the Olympics, and I remember telling my mom "I don't want to like him, because his policies are scary, but I can't help it!" He really is a charming man I would like to know, but not as my president.
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From:rae_1985
Date:October 21st, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Actually I think it was on Leno. But either way my thoughts about him were the same.
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From:davidfcooper
Date:October 21st, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
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The way McCain has adopted a false persona reminds me of Dole in 1996 and Gore in 2000, and I hope it has the same result. It seems McCain has several personae; his calous misogynist persona, for example, is rarely shown in public.
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From:beck_liz
Date:October 21st, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
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Well, and the heck of it is, the McCain that I, like you, used to like showed up at the Al Smith dinner last week. He got to be funny and charming. I was left wondering where he came from; he's been missing so long. Mind, there were still a few lines I didn't appreciate, but for the most part? Funnnnneeee. If that guy had been running for president these last few months, he'd be doing better, I think.
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From:mofic
Date:October 22nd, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
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If that guy had been running for president these last few months, he'd be doing better, I think.

Yeah, I think so, too. He would not have the excited commitment of the right wing of his party that the Sarah Palin pick and the attack strategy has given him, but push come to shove the right wing of his party is sooooo opposed to the idea of a black POTUS that they'd vote for McCain/Lieberman (or whoever) without excited commitment. And he would have won over some of the moderates who are running the other way!
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From:beck_liz
Date:October 22nd, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Actually, even some of the un-moderate conservatives have ditched McCain and are planning on voting for Obama. Ken Adelman has switched allegiances, and a lot of people are very surprised by this. He was very pro-Iraq War back when, and served in the Reagan White House for 7 years. It's kind of interesting watching which people have jumped ship, which people are holding fast, and who's just not talking about it anymore - I notice George Will's last couple of columns have been very much not about the election, at least not obviously about it, anyway.
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From:mofic
Date:October 22nd, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
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I do think a lot of people just feel it's over and time to move on. Also, anyone who is "conservative" in the old sense - as opposed to the hates-gays-and-abortion-loves-guns sense - is pretty appalled at the selection of such an obviously unqualified VP nominee. Clearly not a conservative thing to do. But I still think if he'd gone with a moderate running mate, the right wing would have voted for him, if only while holding their collective nose. And the moderates and independents would have taken him a lot more seriously.
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From:truwest
Date:October 22nd, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
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WORD. I've said almost exactly this to various friends. I used to have a lot of respect for McCain; I didn't always agree with him, but I respected him and thought he was a well-intentioned, honorable guy. But since he's been running for President -- his behavior has sunk lower and lower. It's like he's lost his compass.
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