The George Will Revolt

John McCain is mad as hell and conservative curmudgeon George Will isn’t going to take it anymore.

The words are startling.

He starts out with quote, an allusion to John McCain being like the queen in Alice In Wonderland wildly shouting “Off with their heads!” at every perceived tormentor. Howling it over our financial crisis and conservative columnist George Will’s critique doesn’t get any better from there.

Will writes:

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.”

George Will is through with the Straight Talk Express. Especially as it evolves into the Befuddled Talk Express. Will is exasperated with McCain and writes as much so in his column Tuesday. It’s a vigorous literary battering that never lets up as Will exerts his frustration and disappointment with McMaverick.

McCain’s smear — that Cox “betrayed the public’s trust” — is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are “corrupt” or “betray the public’s trust,” two categories that seem to be exhaustive — there are no other people. McCain’s Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law’s restrictions on campaigning. Today, his campaign is creatively finding interstices in laws intended to restrict campaign giving and spending

An old school conservative, Will stands on the side of smaller government. Like many fiscal conservatives, he questions the necessity and rectitude in a possible $700 billion-plus bail out of private companies who caused the market meltdown by taking duplicitous mortgages and selling them as investment funds.

On ABC’s This Week, Will called the move to buy up the bad debt of wayward companies the dreaded “S” word — socialism. The prudish pundit doesn’t want to reward the bad actors in this drama, but he also doesn’t want a potential president of the United States running around half-cocked calling for men to be fired and heads to be chopped. It was a frustration that Will unfurled previously on the show Sunday. He surprised the writers at The Huffington Post with his sudden frankness about McCain’s temper, rashes and the “age issue.”

In the Sunday morning quintet Will assesses that John McCain has shown his true personality and “it has made some of us fearful.” Sam Donaldson knocks McCain around about his gaffe riddled week where he repeated numerous times that the economy was fundamentally sound as the markets went into free fall. Within the span of a few hours in one day McCain went from being mute on the crisis to suddenly acknowledging the collapse and turning into a populist.

The panel called in pandering.

By the end of Will’s column he poses a question that he believes every voter must consider.

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

I find Will’s doubting of McCain’s ability to lead fascinating because he is seeing what other Republicans foretold during the primaries. That McCain had temper issues. That it concerned them that he could be president with his tendencies to go with gut and heart over substance and fact.

It is McCain’s love of risk over reward that lead to an “almost” endorsement for Obama from the conservative. A de facto endorsement for a man Will is ideologically opposed to but may be a safer bet as Will argues that voting for a president has to be about more than judicial appointments.

What’s the point of electing McCain if his temperament and nature make him unfit for the position? What if the same unpredictable nature that caused him to select a political novice/novelty act, Gov. Sarah Palin, as his running mate, that precociousness that
caused him to call for a man to be fired when it was the entire financial regulatory system and private industry who caused his mess, what if that same personality was applied to the world we live in today? What would a McCain presidency wrought?

Would McCain roll the dice on Iraq? Nuclear disarmament? Our relationship with China? Our relationship with Russia? In our adviser and protector role with Israel? In our crises at home with finances, ballooning budgets and deficits, wounded soldiers returning home, unemployment, health care, problems in the Food and Drug Administration and education? Would he go for parlor tricks, gimmicks and pixie dust? Would he go for having Cindy McCain blow a kiss on the dice before McCain shouts “Come on seven, eleven!” on America?

Can McCain control McCain and will others begin to ask this same question if George Will is asking this question? Is McCain’s maverick streak merely the side effect of the gambling addict? A sign of mania and lack of impulse control?

Does maverick equal reckless?

We already know George Will’s answer. But what does the rest of America think?

13 thoughts on “The George Will Revolt

  1. Will's comments are befuddling. It is the same tact he took w/ Bush on the Miers appointment. Up until that time he was gung ho Bush. Bill Clinton to me was the same brillant analyst but underlying person was no good(older folks would say he was born bad).The temper issue I am afraid is not quite the right analysis. McCain is running the type of campaign that cost him his opportunity in 2000: He admitted it in his famous speech about the confederate flag. He sold his soul and lost.Now he has sold his soul again; hiring the very people whom smeared him in SC in 2000, the extreme social positions and solidifying them by picking Gov Palin. His problem, and why I never consider career soldiers eligible for certain positions of government is their indoctrination to the chain of command makes them inflexible in the give and take of moving policy positions. Where in the military, you have a discussion about how to achieve an objective once the command is given to do it you have to follow the order until you succeed or are defeated(we saw this kill Colin Powell's career after he gave the speech at the UN about Iraq's WMD, he followed orders; the info given to him by Cheney). In the political sphere you adjust to a constantly moving target; getting enough votes to win.McCain having sold his soul, is finding that the deal he made is not working. The movement in the political world is constantly giving him no target he can fix on as things change in the real world(Gov Palin an energizer to the base and media phenom is now supplanted by concern about the financial collapse of Wall Street, which has ALWAYS affected Main Street) So each decision is not adequate to the situtation at hand. The frustration has become pallable to him and he knows as a military officer the decision made were his. And now he is being forced to live w/ it.

  2. robert: I actually agree with both you and Will. I too believe that McCain completely sold his soul to get the nomination and is now ethically and logically bankrupt as he grapples for the presidency.I also think he’s maladjusted, temperamental and brash. He’s basically on the high wire without a net, rushing from one thing to the next, falling apart right in front of us.I also agree about the military man thing. The military is a top down, hierarchical organization. It’s all about chain of command and submission to that command. The thinking does become very resolute and McCain does apply that unwavering eye to everything and is reluctant to adjust even with things on the ground have changed dramatically. It makes him look clueless, which he did look last week.

  3. McCain is being saved by two things in this election 1) His being a known figure to voters & 2) Racism. The reason I believe McCain is not down in more poll numbers is the fact he is a White Male. Voters know in there hurt McCain is mentally unfit to be President and Will is preaching to the choir. But, these voters shove the truth aside in hopes of keeping the White House "White" one last time. Because lets face it the United States people in a couple of years will look a little darker. It's only a matter of time befor a person of color becomes president. I really do think it's not about Judges for these people voting McCain. It's all about Racism! Sure some really do love and respect McCain service to this coutnry. But if you strip away there busllshit you get the cold honset truth "They rather the nation fall to complete disater under a White man than have a Negro help save it!" I mean how embarassing it would be that a Black man had to clean up there mess.

  4. anonymous 9:39 am: I agree with you as well. Racism IS the only reason why McCain remains so high in the polls. (McCain is crazy, a sell-out AND is being buoyed by bigotry!) In all seriousness, if he was running against, let’s say Jim Webb of Virginia, possibly Hillary Clinton or even Al Gore, McCain would be dead in the water already. Especially if any of those three had the year Obama has had and the success he has had in energizing the party base and tons of young people.And I’ve always said that if a black person came down and offered America salvation, its people would choose hell. It wouldn’t be the first time.

  5. “Curmudgeons” like George Will can never admit that conservatism has failed, so they have to attack the character of John McCain in lieu of questioning a lifetime of belief in the basic tenets of conservatism. Their mantra is small gov’t and less gov’t interference; all code for deregulation and a market driven economy. Newflash man, YOU and your ilk were WRONG!That’s not to discount that John McCain does not have the temperament to be a statesman, much less the leader of the “free” world.

  6. chantal: This has totally been an agree-a-thon for me thus far in the comments. It’s true. We’ve lived under eight years of a conservative administration, six years of conservatives holding all houses of government, a relatively conservative Supreme Court and congress has been largely conservative since 1994. So they’ve had 14 years to pretty much enact all of their little dreams and the results have been dreadful.But for whatever reasons, the Democrats don’t call them out loudly enough on this. (Lord knows if it were the other way around we’d be a theocracy by now.) So people like George Will are left to argue that the conservatives they elected really weren’t conservatives at all. It’s fascinating.

  7. I’m going to stay on McCain’s anger issue. I think George Will is right to question whether McCain has the right temperament to serve as president. McCain has often used his war record to promote his political career, although I believe those five years as a POW significantly affected his psyche. It’s physical toll on him is obvious when you see McCain walking around and feebly moving his limbs (I have MS that’s in remission for the most part, so I feel for him). And you see the emotional repercussions of his wartime incarceration when he gets irritated by a reporter’s question. His face tenses up and he can barely contain himself sometimes. I’m waiting for him to explode one day publicly. In private, I hear he’s been known to throw people out of his office in a rage. They also say that he holds grudges for years. Do you really want someone like that holding the nuclear weapons codes and handling delicate international disputes? That’s scary.

  8. McCain is so unstable it is scary and apparently it is the norm with this man. Apparently this is how he feels about his ‘daughter’ “Needless to say I was irritated at his large ego, and his rude behavior towards his wife and other women, but decided he must have some redeeming qualities as he had adopted a handicapped child from Bangladesh. I asked him about this one day and his response was shocking “”Oh, that was Cindy’s idea ” I didn’t have anything to do with it. She just went and adopted this thing without even asking me. You can’t imagine how people stare when I wheel this ugly, black thing around in a shopping cart in Arizona. No, it wasn’t my idea at all.”

  9. SMH, So it turns out Cindy might be the true kind one. I believe McCain is not a hateful man but just someone stuck on stupid most of the time. Racism is keeping McCain alive in this race to the White House. Sadly, if McCain gets in he’ll only serve most likely one term. And sooner or later a minority will be president. I think these people know damn well McCain is crazy but or willing to overlook it in hopes of keeping th Negro out. Karma is a bitch! These folks will get what they deserve in the end.

  10. As a long time watcher of “This Week” (I watched with my father when Brinkley hosted), I was nonplussed when Will criticized McCain’s responses to this week’s economy. Particularly since he had drank the Palin kool-aid. Makes me think someone poured an antidote down Will’s throat.”Real” conservatives have long since criticized the Bush administration for being fake conservatives and ruining the name of conservatism. Cracks are slowly coming through the united GOP front – David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, now George Will. Their cause suffered massively under Bush, they can’t stand to see conservatism molested even further under McCain/Palin.Racism, the right wing, and ovarian comradery may well be propping McCain up in the polls. He throw away whatever maverick cred he had when he sucked off the religious right and picked Palin. Whenever I see her, I flash on Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd”.But seriously, if not Obama as our first black president, then who?! Who else has the qualifications and abilities? And how long must we wait?Bourgietopia

  11. I read the The Roots link and it doesn’t surprise me that Repubs would resort again to voter registration shenanigans. Still, I believe black people are their worst enemy. I have a 78-year-old mother who only voted once in her life (for McGovern, I went with my parents in ’72) and she never went back to the voting booth after that. My brother dragged her kicking and screaming to register last spring, although the polls closed a few minutes before she arrived to vote for Obama. She loves the man, but she still doesn’t know whether she will vote in November. I would imagine a lot of black people, young and old, are just like her. They have absolutely no interest in participating in the political process, which is sad to me.

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