Read here No more of the oldest established, permanent floating crap game of press confabs. No more audiences that weren’t vetted for friendliness. No more of McCain’s trademark insouciant mocking the process even as he participated in it. The ultimate riddle is this:
Who's The Question Mark?
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.
And it is Obama, who sashayed onto the trail two years ago as an aloof and exotic mystery man with a slim record and a strange name, now coming across as the steadier brand.
The McCain campaign specializes in erratica, while the Obama campaign continues to avoid any dramatica.
McCain pals around with Joe the Plumber and leaves Tito the Builder to Sarah Palin, exactly the kind of inane campaign silliness that the McCain formerly known as Maverick would have mocked mercilessly.
He’s getting a little traction on taxes, as he latches on to every possible scary image about Obama — except the suggestion that the Democrat’s gray Hart Schaffner Marx suits are red.
Before he was bubbled by Bushies, McCain was one of the most known and knowable quantities in American politics. For most of his long public career, he prided himself on his openness with the press — he even allowed some reporters to watch the results of January’s New Hampshire primary in his hotel suite in Nashua. He relished spending all day being challenged by voters and reporters.
Last summer, tapped out and unable to afford a paid staff of political professionals, he talked freely, telling reporters he would have a White House that would be the polar opposite of the secretive and dismissive Bush-Cheney operation.
He imagined weekly press conferences and talked of subjecting himself to a version of British question time in Congress. While acknowledging he was a tech tyro, he promised to try “a Google,” as he called searching the Web, to put government spending online so citizens could bird-dog it.
He even went so far as to spin a dream of a West Wing in which he would cut back on his Secret Service so he wouldn’t feel so constrained.
In the end, “The Bullet,” or “Sarge,” as McCain calls his replacement campaign manager Steve Schmidt, was the one who did the shackling, turning the vibrant and respected McCain into a shell of his former self.
Schmidt abruptly cut off the oxygen supply to McCain’s brain.
Whether it was the five years he spent in a hole in Hanoi or just his gregarious makeup, McCain seemed to feed off of the company of people who interested him, be it reporters, voters or the pols in his posse, like Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham.
Unlike Obama, He Who Walks Alone, McCain always rejected the solitary in favor of the social. But ever since Sergeant Schmidt put Captain McCain into a sterile brig on the trail, the candidate has become a question mark.
Why would he repeat that oblivious line about the fundamentals of the economy being strong, saying it once in August and again in September?
Why doesn’t McCain question why he has become a question mark?
No more of the oldest established, permanent floating crap game of press confabs. No more audiences that weren’t vetted for friendliness. No more of McCain’s trademark insouciant mocking the process even as he participated in it.
The ultimate riddle is this: