In a real surprise, the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch published a tough opinion piece on how mediocre McCain would be as a president. Author Rex Nutting ripped McCain for his Naval Academy career, fighter pilot performance, running for Congress as a carpetbagger, legislative record, economic ignorance, and relentless self-promotion.
Here's a sample:
In my opinion, a McCain presidency would be even worse than that. But I have to wonder why this kind of hit piece is appearing in an outlet of the reliably Republican Wall Street Journal. There's lots of possible explanations and several of them could be applicable at the same time. It may be that the business community is becoming more politically diverse and Market Watch is speaking to the Democrats among its customers. There's also a chance that Nutter's article is payback for McCain's efforts against the tobacco industry, Bush's initial tax cuts, and pork-barrel legislation.
McCain says he doesn't understand the economy. He's demonstrated that he doesn't understand the workings of Social Security, or the political history of the Middle East. He doesn't know who our enemies are. He says he wants to reduce global warming, but then proposes ideas that would stimulate -- not reduce -- demand for fossil fuels.
McCain has done one thing well -- self promotion. Instead of working on legislation or boning up on the issues, he's been on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" more than any other guest. He's been on the Sunday talk shows more than any other guest in the past 10 years. He's hosted "Saturday Night Live" and even announced his candidacy in 2007 on "The Late Show with David Letterman."
But I wonder if the corporate sector as a whole has decided that the Republicans aren't good for big business. The Bush administration's economic policy was mostly limited to tax cutting and deregulation while they've allowed health costs and oil prices to balloon, the deficit to spiral out of control, the dollar to lose much of its value, and the housing market to become a flimsy speculative bubble.
Business might have decided that the Democrats are likely to do better.
The second hit piece came from Arizona reporter Amy Silverman who views McCain as being more of a dishonorable, lying kind of politician than most office-holders. Silverman's major piece of evidence is the way McCain sandbagged Arizona governor Rose Mofford and then gleefully lied about it afterward.
Now, Mofford had been governor for only eight days . . . She was not familiar with the particulars of federal water law. Nor did her staff think she'd be expected to be — just then. But, apparently, Senator James McClure, a Republican from Idaho, did . . . McClure asked Mofford a series of questions that would leave any water expert's mouth dry. Her staff jumped in to try to answer, but even so, ultimately they had to file an addendum to the testimony . . .According to Silverman, it's McCain's ability to adapt a self-righteous posture precisely when he was lying about a bit of his own nasty work that makes him a despicable character. She also writes about McCain's nasty jokes about women, McCain's betrayal of Barry Goldwater, and manipulation of his relationship with the dying Mo Udall for political purposes.
"During lunch, McCain said, almost with mischievous glee, that he had slipped some highly technical questions to [James McClure] to ask Mofford — questions she wouldn't be prepared to answer or expected to answer.
"Flabbergasted, I asked McCain why would he want to sabotage Mofford's testimony, when in fact the CAP was the nonpartisan pet of Republicans and Democrats . . . since its inception.
"His reply, as near as I remember, was, 'I'll embarrass a Democrat any time I get the chance.'
"The lunch continued in strained chit-chat. We then walked back to McCain's office, where a few reporters, all of them from Arizona papers, as I recall, were waiting. One said there was a rumor McCain had tried to sabotage Mofford's testimony, to which he said something like, 'I'd never do anything like that.'"
All in all, it's an ugly picture of John McCain as a man and as a politician.
For now, the WSJ Market Watch article and Amy Silverman's profile aren't going to have any impact because of events in South Ossetia.
But they may still come back to haunt McCain as media attention begins to focus on the question of whether John McCain is qualified to be president.