Saturday, December 12, 2009

McCain:'nice guy' turned critic

CAN WE ALL recall the noble storyline of John McCain's failed campaign to win the presidency? He cast himself as the Great Emancipator who would free the Congress of its ugly bonds of partisanship. No issue would be so divisive that he couldn't find a way to work out a consensus for the good of the nation. He offered that pledge with benign assurances, a friendly smile and a full guarantee that it would happen if he were in the Oval Office. He was a Dr. Welby with political ambition.

To express his gratitude, Obama turned up at a dinner for McCain soon after the election and declared, "There are few Americans who understand this need for common purpose and common effort better than John McCain."

The president's math was flawed. There is one fewer today. A year into the Obama presidency, McCain has become a thuggish partisan critic of the Administration's policies. POLITICO`recounted the McCain record and it referred to the shifty Arizonan as "critic-in-chief."

POLITICO WRITERS Jonathan Martin and Manu Raju observed:
"For years, McCain relished being an outsider and a maverick, a style that often led to battles with his own party's leadership. Today, for reasons that friends and McCain observers say could range from unresolved anger to concern for his right flank as he seeks re-election to genuine dismay about Obama's agenda, he is helping lead a fiery crusade of GOP loyalists against Democratic priorities - and irked some of his Democratic colleagues in the process."
He has long been known to have an explosive temper, which was carefully suppressed during the campaign. Forced sincerity didn't come easily, beginning with his robotic opening TV speech to reach out to an audience wider than his home state's Grand Canyon. Whatever corrective action his handlers took, it didn't get much better in the following months.

The problem with McCain and his Republican colleagues remains: How could a war hero POW from the ruggedly correct Southwest lose to an upstart African American from Chicago? How, indeed?

The question doubtless continues to eat at McCain in the twilight of his political career - as well as lock-stepping a Republican Party that refuses by words and deeds to recognize that historical trends are becoming far more decisive against a party wedded to white politics.

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