"HELPLESS McCAIN" WATCH
Matt Bai in today's New York Times Magazine:
For much of the last decade, McCain gave the impression of having glimpsed the future more clearly than most of his party's aging leaders; he seemed to understand, much to the dismay of Republican culture warriors, that old causes of right and left were giving way to a less dogmatic and divisive call for reform. As a presidential nominee, however, McCain has politely declined to shake his party from its ideological inertia. (Although surely even he winced when Mitt Romney exhorted the convention-goers in St. Paul to end the dominance of permissive liberals over Washington, as if this were 1972 and he were rising up to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.)
You got that? First, according to Bai, McCain won't challenge the ideological mad dogs of his party out of politeness. Not fear or cravenness. Not an actual fondness for the ideologues' ideas and their eye-gouging style. No -- McCain hates all that, according to Bai, but he holds his tongue because he's trying to be nice.
Give me a break.
Oh, and he was shocked, shocked, when Mitt Romney went all culture warrior on him. That's because he really hates culture warriors -- which we know, of course, because he picked one of the most beloved culture warriors in America, at least among the culture-warrior cognoscenti, to be his running mate.
Bonus Bai obtuseness:
The way you win the presidency forecloses certain options for governing; factions you offend during the campaign don't want to give you any victories once you take office... it's why George W. Bush, after the long standoff in Florida, never had a chance of building bipartisan bridges in Washington.
Yup, Bai still believes that George W. Bush desperately wanted to have a nice, chummy working relationship with Democrats -- the same George W. Bush who came to Washington with Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, and Donald Rumsfeld in tow; the one who wouldn't give the time of day even to moderate Republicans in his own administration (Powell, Whitman, O'Neill); the one whose administration came in, guns blazing, with trumped-up charges of outrageous White House vandalism by Clintonites. Yeah, that guy really wanted to make nice with Democrats, but, darn it, he just couldn't