Incredibly, McCain has nakedly endorsed the Bush-Rove brand of governance in his own campaign by assembling his personal set of lobbyist cronies and Rove operatives to run it. They have not only entangled him in a welter of conflicts of interest, but they’ve furthered cynical political stunts like the elevation of Sarah Palin. At least Bush and Rove didn’t try to put an unqualified hack like, say, Alberto Gonzales half a heartbeat away from the presidency.
As if the Palin pick weren’t damning enough, McCain and his team responded to the financial panic by offering their own panicky simulation of the Bush style of crisis management in real time. Fire the S.E.C. chairman and replace him with Andrew Cuomo! Convene a 9/11 commission to save Wall Street! Don’t bail out A.I.G.! Do bail out A.I.G.! Reacting to polls and the short-term dictates of 24-hour news cycles, McCain offered as many economic-policy reboots in a month as Bush offered “Plans for Victory” during the first three years of the Iraq war.Now McCain is trying to distract us from his humiliating managerial ineptitude by cranking up the politics of fear — another trademark Bush-Rove strategy. But the McCain camp’s quixotic effort to turn an “old washed-up terrorist” into a wedge issue as divisive as same-sex marriage is too little, too late and too tone-deaf at a time when Americans are suffering too much to indulge in 1960s culture wars. Voters want policies that might actually work rather than another pandering, cynical leader who operates mainly on the basis of his “gut” and political self-interest.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
John W. McCain
The new Frank Rich column: