“I’ve seen in the press where in your run for the presidency, you’ve been sucking up to the religious right,” the man said, adding: “I was just wondering how soon do you predict a Republican candidate for president will start sucking up to the old Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party?”Although you know that these days, there's truth in that response for McCain.
Mr. McCain listened with his eyes downcast, then looked the man in the eye, smiled and replied: “I’m probably going to get in trouble, but what’s wrong with sucking up to everybody?” It was a flash of the old McCain, and the audience laughed.
And then the questions turn to his Iraq position, and it's sinking him, clearly.
Most Americans are sick and tired of watching things go hideously backward in Iraq and Afghanistan, and want someone to show them the way out. Mr. McCain is stuck on the bridge of a sinking policy with W. and Dick Cheney, who showed again this week that there is no bottom to his lunacy. The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work.And here's a major backtrack from his former straight talk:
It has left Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, once the most spontaneous of campaigners, off balance. He’s like a cat without its whiskers. When the moderator broached the subject of Iraq after lunch, Mr. McCain grimaced, stuck out his tongue a little and said sarcastically, “Thanks.”
Defending his stance, he sounds like a Bill Gates robot prototype, repeating in a monotone: “I believe we’ve got a new strategy. ... It can succeed. I can’t guarantee success. But I do believe firmly that if we get out now we risk chaos and genocide in the region.”
And how, I asked him, can Dick Cheney tell ABC News that British troops getting out is “an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well,” while he says that Democrats who push to get America out would “validate the Al Qaeda strategy.” Isn’t that a nutty?The John McCain of 2000 would never have responded that way. He's been replaced by John McCain the 2008 version. Not new and improved but old and backwards.
But Senator McCain was back on his robo-loop: “I can only express my gratitude for the enormous help that the British have given us.”
Sometimes I miss John McCain, even when I’m with him.