Monday, August 18, 2008

The Introspective Basis of the McCain Campaign

It's beginning to look more and more like the McCain campaign is using introspection as the basis for the criticisms of Barack Obama.

For example, the McCain campaign knew they were getting into racist territory when they put out their provocative "Celeb" ad with Obama juxtaposed to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Of course, it didn't bother them much. Republicans have been running race-baiting presidential campaigns since the 1960's.

What differentiates the McCain campaign is that they decided that they would gain a further advantage from Republican traditions of race-baiting by accusing Obama of being the one to play"the race card." But senior McCain staffers like Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt couldn't have pursued the "race-card" theme is they hadn't been aware of their own race-baiting.

There's also the celebrity angle.

There's no politician in American who loves being a celebrity more than John McCain. He's appeared on Saturday Night Live and late-night talk shows as well as cable comedy shows. McCain was also a regular on shout-fests like like Crossfire and appeared more than any other politician on Sunday morning news shows like "Meet the Press."

One of the main reasons why the McCain campaign has ridiculed Obama for being the "no. 1 global celebrity" with so much relish is McCain's awareness of the extent to which he himself values being a celebrity.

In other words, McCain's criticism of Obama for being a celebrity was born out of introspection.

Today, McCain moved on to Obama's foreign policy positions. John McCain has shown a willingness to say almost anything to reassure the conservative base of the Republican Party that he's one of them. Among the many topics on which McCain has reversed himself are Bush tax cuts, the "agents of intolerance" in the religious right, right-wing judges like Samuel Alito, immigration policy, torture, and off-shore drilling.

No doubt McCain's going to change more of his positions as the election campaign becomes more heated.

Given the burning intensity of McCain's ambition, it should be no surprise that McCain is accusing Obama of adopting positions solely to further his presidential ambitions. Speaking about Obama's position on Iraq, McCain claims that:
“Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president . . . What’s less apparent is the judgment to be commander in chief. And in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president.

McCain was criticizing Obama's vote against war funding in 2007. But Obama had opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. Thus, his vote against war funding was perfectly consistent with his views of the war.

When McCain talks about "ambition to be president" as driving Obama's positions on policy issues, he's really talking about himself and projecting onto Obama.

However, if McCain looks at himself closely enough, he'll find that his criticisms of Obama are an extremely good guide to why John McCain himself should not be president.

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