When he ran against Bush four years ago, McCain was smeared mercilessly. When McCain protested to Bush about the attacks at one of their debates during the 2000 primaries, Bush brushed him off. "John," Bush said, "it's politics."
McCain snapped back, "George, everything isn't politics."
It's not in the article, but I'm sure shrubya's response must have been laughter, with a "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis?" look on his face. From Ann Richards, to McCain, to Kerry: the fact that vicious smear campaigns fall in the realm of "politics" is all that need be said about this administration.
[Bush supporters]claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone "push polls" and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote.
Politics™ being what they are, McCain lost the South Carolina primary. And realpolitik being what it is, he started lending his support to shrubya's campaign shortly thereafter.
Past tensions aside, McCain disagrees with Bush on issues ranging from tax cuts to global warming. But he campaigned for Bush in 2000 and started campaigning for him this year in January. He is scheduled to appear with Bush in Tennessee and Iowa on Tuesday.
Is he laying groundwork for a 2008 presidential campaign? “Idle conjecture,” McCain responded.
Yaright. McCain is in permacampaign mode. After toeing the GOP line during the "coattails" afterglow and voting in support of torture enabler Alberto Gonzales, McCain is now Mr. Anti-torture. An admirable effort, but why now when he had no qualms confirming a man who described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete" as chief law enforcement officer of this land? Politics™
To be fair, McCain almost has no choice. After allying himself so strongly with shrubya, he's got to do something to rock the boat, or else scenes like this will haunt him for campaign eternity:
That picture was taken the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. It's staggering to think that nobody among their combined staffs paused to consider that a photo-op might be in poor judgement under the circumstances. Consider it a visual "campanis moment."
In the 2002 and 2004 elections, there was much talk of shrubya's "coattails"; candidates across the land rode into office under the auspices of shrubya's GOP. At that time, I suppose it made all the sense in the world to associate oneself with his camp. But the times, they are a changin' - the coattails are now in tatters. If the Forrester and Kilgore campaigns are any indication, it would appear that shrubya is now "nukular."
Both candidates are of the belief that shrubya's abysmal approval ratings cost them their recent bids for governorships. In Kilgore's case, it is even speculated that shrubya campaigning with him cost him votes among undecideds. Somehow, I don't think McCain will be holding shrubya to his end of their gentlemen's agreement.
Fewer than one in 10 adults say they would prefer a congressional candidate who is a Republican and who agrees with Bush on most major issues, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Even among Republicans, seven of 10 are most likely to back a candidate who has at least some disagreements with the president.
Even if McCain doesn't seek campaign help from shrubya, he's still got an uphill climb to put some distance between himself and one of the most unpopular presidents in a century. He is still apologizing for him, most recently on David Letterman.
Letterman told McCain that he thinks the President "has surrounded himself by yes-men and oil men who don't care about ordinary Americans." McCain claims that "George Bush is an honest man who cares about America." (Oddly, the audience applauds.) "He's a fine and decent man who loves his country." (More rousing applause.) "Mistakes have been made, things have gone wrong -- but it's not because of dishonesty."
No...no dishonesty here. No reason to question the integrity of a man who allowed you to be slandered in the primaries...nope. Nothing to see here. If that isn't enough to make one question McCain's judgement, I'm not sure what would be. But I am sure that this picture will haunt him even more than the "let us eat cake" photo-op:
Behold the smirky embrace of (political) death. McCain a presidential hopeful? I think not.