Sunday, October 26, 2008

a couple of things from that LONG new york times magazine article on mccain

Robert Draper's long piece, "John McCain - the Making (and Remaking) of the Candidate" was interesting in an inside-baseball kind of way. If McCain goes on to lose to Barack Obama, it should be interesting to see greater details on how decisions were made.

But a few little things that interested me. Draper writes,

The new narrative — the Team of Mavericks coming to lay waste the Beltway power alleys — now depended on a fairly inexperienced Alaska politician. The following night, after McCain’s speech brought the convention to a close, one of the campaign’s senior advisers stayed up late at the Hilton bar savoring the triumphant narrative arc. I asked him a rather basic question: “Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?”

The senior adviser thought for a moment. Then he looked up from his beer. “No,” he said quietly. “I don’t know.”

Earlier Draper made it clear that McCain's key advisers - and McCain himself - never really considered that. They were impressed based on a 2007 interview with Charlie Rose that Palin was able to deflect questions back to her preferred areas. Apparently, it never occurred to them to wonder whether that was a strength - or a sign that she was incapable of discussing anything else. Katie Couric seems to have demonstrated it was the latter...

Another snippet:

The flipside to John McCain’s metanarrative of personal valor has always been palpable self-righteousness. In this campaign, his sense of integrity has been doubly offended. First, an adviser said, “He just really thinks the media is completely in the tank for Obama and doesn’t feel like he’s getting a fair shake at all.” And second, another said, “I don’t think John likes people who try to do jobs they’re not qualified for” — referring, in this case, to Barack Obama.

I think this is probably true about McCain. But it never stopped McCain from accepting jobs - even lobbying for jobs - that he himself was not qualified for. Read this devastating Rolling Stone story about McCain. Remember, McCain got into the US Naval Academy because his father and grandfather were admirals - they had to take him. He graduated 884 out of 889, but still got a choice assignment as a Navy pilot. He crashed not one, not two, but THREE Navy airplanes, including at least one instance where it was due to showing off - hotdogging, thrillseeking, in McCain's words, daredevil clowning. His father protected him from the punishment a less-well connected Navy pilot would have received.

After his stint as a POW, McCain got his wings back even though (not his fault) he couldn't qualify physically. He got to study at the National War College despite lacking the qualifications, but McCain appealed to the Secretary of the Navy - a friend of his father's - and he got in, bumping out another more-qualified candidate for the slot. He was then made commander for an air squadron and even McCain now admits that he "was not qualified."

Yep, seeing people get jobs for which they are not qualified (and I dispute that Obama falls into that category, though Sarah Palin clearly does) really bothers John McCain. Except when it is him.



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