McCain: Lashing Out or High-Stakes Poker?

I read about the McCain-Obama dust up with a degree of incredulity, because it seems to me that one of the things that Sen. McCain can least afford is anything that will feed the whispers that, well, he’s not quite right, a little bit, you know, unstable. And this intemperate letter is so un-Senatorial in its lack of courtesy as to be enough to fuel an entire muttering, not just whispering, campaign.

Talking Points Memo does a valiant job of trying to find a rational motive for what seems otherwise to be a fit of childish pique:

the key here to note is what’s behind this dust-up. Obama is a rising star among the Democrats. Republicans want to lay a backstory for feature criticisms and character attacks against him. So, for instance, if Obama is the vice presidential candidate in 2008, they want to have a history of attacks on him banked, ones that allege he’s a liar, or too partisan, or untrustworthy, whatever. It doesn’t even really matter. What matters is that there already be an established history of them. Point being, that in early 2008, they want to be able to simply refer back to Obama’s ‘character issue’, the questions about his honesty, etc. rather than have to make the case on its merits.

So which is it: McCain the whiny baby, or McCain the unprincipled Machiavellian conniver?

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6 Responses to McCain: Lashing Out or High-Stakes Poker?

  1. global yokel says:

    “So which is it: McCain the whiny baby, or McCain the unprincipled Machiavellian conniver?”


  2. Karen says:

    Ditto – and Double Ditto!

    Time to write those Senators again – So I DID.


  3. Paul Gottlieb says:

    McCain is trying desperately to shore up his support on the extreme right of his party. His unprincipled attack on a widely admired young Democrat is just his way of signaling that he is more than willing to get down in the gutter for them. Also, if you’re trying to impress the right wing of the Republican Party, it never hurts if your target is a black Democrat.
    There is also an element of personal pique at work here: Obama is widely regarded as a highly honorable young man; McCain must have bitter memories of the old days when he still retained a shred of personal honor

  4. molly bloom says:

    Its the McCain with the anger mangament problem.

  5. Mojo says:

    I certainly don’t rule out Machiavellian motives, but can’t believe they’re the ones you’ve mentioned. Everybody in the GOP knows you don’t use the candidate himself in laying the groundwork for a smear campaign. He waits for others to do the dirty work and then just refers to it in a “statesmanlike” fashion (e.g. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for people to keep bringing up my opponents alleged long history of child abuse” or “I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation of why my esteemed colleague was reportedly found nude in a vat of jello with three albino midgets and an alpaca”). I think it’s more likely that the Senator has just been doing a little too much blogging lately and the snark got away from him.

  6. jw says:

    Paul G.’s comments are right on point. I don’t think you can be a be a viable Republican candidate for President without establishing your racist-friendly bona fides. Indeed, McCain lost to W. in South Carolina on essentially that basis. So here’s his golden opportunity to broadcast the message that he ain’t gonna get pushed around by some uppity black guy.

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