Jul 1, 2008

Yes but would he enjoy it?

Today Jim Webb got his Veterans bill passed, despite fierce opposition from Bush and McCain because they thought it was too kind to veterans — rewarding them with a college education, and thus leading them out of army service, rather then keeping them there. Now that the Bill has passed anyway, McCain seems to have changed his tune, telling voters on Friday:
I'm happy to tell you that we probably agreed to an increase in educational benefits for our veterans that not only gives them an increase in their educational benefits, but if they stay in for a certain period of time than they can transfer those educational benefits to their spouses and or children. That's a very important aspect I think of incentivizing people of staying in the military.
He then attack Obama (who voted for the Bill) saying.
Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge. I think I have earned the right to make that claim.

It's hard to know what to say to this. Sometimes a lie comes along that is so bold and blatent that it just bowls you over. A lie that was any less blatent it might have left me scowling, but this one actually brought a smile to my face. There is no other reaction, really. And it got me thinking: McCain is, I believe, a man of some integrity, and yet here he is, coughing up stuff like this. He can't really be enjoying it. This isn't fun for him. And that led me back to Peggy Noonan's terrific piece in the WSJ, this week:

There is a sense about his campaign that John McCain has already got what he wanted, he got what he needed, which was to be top dog in the Republican Party, the party that had abused him in 2000 and cast him aside. They all bow to him now, and he doesn't need anything else. He doesn't need the presidency. He got what he wanted. So now he can coast. This is, in the deepest way, unserious. JFK had to have the presidency—he wanted that thing. Nixon had to have it too, and Reagan had to have it to institute his new way. Clinton had to have it—it was his destiny, the thing he'd wanted since he was a teenager.

I think this is spot on. When you see McCain campaigning the think he most resembles is a man standing in the middle of a bar-fight, taken aback by the brawl going on around him. There's a certain taken-aback glee at seeing this punch land, or that person go over, but his heart is not really in it. I'm not really sure he would have fun being president. I know having fun is a strange criterion to use when it comes to the high office in the land, but it isn't totally off the mark, either: fun tends to be the most observable sign that someone is right for a job, that the match is so exact, they can't but enjoy themselves.

I don't think Bush enjoyed it: I think he wanted to win the presidency more than he wanted what followed. The presidential bit. Obama would enjoy it I think. When his campaign was really humming along, around the time of the Indiana primary, when McCain was coming out with his duff gas-tax idea and Hillary was knocking back whiskey shots like her life depended on it, Obama was having such a blast taking them both on, you couldn't help but smile.

God. I'm getting nostalgic for the Primaries. The Ggeneral election is a little dull by comparion, truth be told — the two candidates in a holding pattern, making speeches nobody listens to, watching the surrogates make pseudo-gaffes.

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