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.