Friday, September 26, 2008

Thinking About McCain

You can hear Brooks cognitive dissonance about McCain -- he tries to write a favorable column, but can't:
what disappoints me about the McCain campaign is it has no central argument. I had hoped that he would create a grand narrative explaining how the United States is fundamentally unprepared for the 21st century and how McCain’s worldview is different.

McCain has not made that sort of all-encompassing argument, so his proposals don’t add up to more than the sum of their parts. Without a groundbreaking argument about why he is different, he’s had to rely on tactical gimmicks to stay afloat. He has no frame to organize his response when financial and other crises pop up.

He has no overarching argument in part because of his Senate training and the tendency to take issues on one at a time — in part, because of the foolish decision to run a traditional right-left campaign against Obama and, in part, because McCain has never really resolved the contradiction between the Barry Goldwater and Teddy Roosevelt sides of his worldview. One day he’s a small-government Western conservative; the next he’s a Bull Moose progressive. The two don’t add up — as we’ve seen in his uneven reaction to the financial crisis.

September 26, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Thinking About McCain

I’ve been covering John McCain steadily for a decade. A few years ago, I worked on a book, which I foolishly never completed, on the U.S. Senate with McCain as the central character. So when I step back and think of McCain, even in the heat of this campaign, I still think of him first in the real world of governing, not in the show-business world of the election.


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