Sunday, November 02, 2008

We Thought We Knew Him

Just who is Sen. John McCain?

As Maureen Down asks today in "Who's the Question Mark?" (NYTimes).... "In the final moments of the most gripping campaign in modern history, John McCain is still trying to costume Barack Obama as a dangerous enigma.

"But, in an odd and remarkable reversal, it is McCain who is the enigma, even though he entered the race with one of the best brands in American politics."

Dowd notes that "The McCain campaign specializes in erratica, while the Obama campaign continues to avoid any dramatica."

So just how was it that the man who was one of the most knowable politicians in America..... the Straight-Talking maverick Senator who made the press swoon.... morphed into a political alien? A crooked-talking Bushie insider spouting inanities such as "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."?

Dowd says it was when McCain hired replacement campaign manager Steve Schmidt last summer. Schmidt shackled McCain, "turning the vibrant and respected McCain into a shell of his former self.

"Schmidt abruptly cut off the oxygen supply to McCain's brain" and he became the question mark of the campaign, Dowd opines. The social McCain become "whiny, angry, vengeful and bitter."

Campaign tactics became a see-what-sticks-to-the-wall game of murky constantly-shifting policies and Obama character assassination-by-association.

McCain, like W, likes to depend on his gut for decisions, the most rumbling of which was the selection of Palin the Unpalatable.

For Dowd the "ultimate riddle is this: Why doesn't McCain question why he has become a question mark?"

Like much of the press, Dowd may have a McCain blind spot. She may not want to see that McCain allowed himself to be shackled. That he bought into the Rovian spinmeisters schemes.

And that the relentless spotlight of a fiercely-contested long campaign season exposed the very empty character-vessel beneath McCain's well-crafted public facade.

Vote. It really matters!

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