A Cautious Man
June 21, 2008
 
"If I Look A Little Different, It’s Because I’ve Changed"
As we all know, George W. Bush turned out to be very different from the first George Bush. And, as it turns out, the John McCain running for President now is very different from the 2000 version. In fact, he's so different from the "first" John McCain, that we may as well distinguish between the two, by calling the 2008 version "John W. McCain" -

Ask any American what they know about John McCain and they will probably reply that he is a war hero who survived years of brutality in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. They might add that he is a maverick, free-thinking spirit who values independence and integrity above toeing the party line.

That is the Old John McCain, the one that has been written about in umpteen newspaper profiles, the one whose campaign bus is called the Straight Talk Express. But while all eyes have been on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a new John McCain has been emerging. For the past 407 days, since he threw his hat into the presidential ring in April 2007, McCain has been criss-crossing the country, presenting an image of himself that runs counter to his long-standing reputation.

That article quoted from above (as do many, many others) describes how the "new" McCain is different from the "old" version. There's the change on taxes, the retreat on immigration, the changed attitude towards megachurch pastors who try to influence politics, etc. The description of his appearance at an NRA event makes this point -

If Old John McCain had turned up to this annual convention of the National Rifle Association - one of America's most hard-core rightwing affiliations - the results could have been ugly. Old John McCain is loathed by the gun-toting right. After all, this was the man who proposed granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants, and - which is worse? - did so hand in hand with that enemy of the nation, Ted Kennedy. The same man who accused televangelists such as the late Jerry Falwell of being "agents of intolerance". The candidate whom the NRA opposed when he last ran for president, in 2000, swinging its four million active members instead behind George Bush.

So how did New John McCain get on this time in front of some 3,000 NRA supporters? He began by squinting into the teleprompter. And then he started pressing buttons. Button 1: "At the outset, let me recognise the life of a great American, Charlton Heston." (Huge cheer for the film actor and NRA president who died in April.) Button 2: "I opposed the ban on so-called 'assault weapons' which was first proposed after a California schoolyard shooting." (Another big cheer.) Button 3: he tells the crowd he stands for low taxes, less government, a bonfire of federal bureaucracy. Button 4: he vows to fight on in Iraq until the war is won. Button 5: he chucks in a reference to the greatness of America, and to God.

I'm not the first to refer to him as John W. McCain, of course (see for example a reference from Mother Jones), but I think that it's a good habit to get into.

[Edited to add] Sonofagun, I should have done more research before posting. There's an actual John-W-McCain.com! There's also a "Wikiality" page for "John W. McCain". Cool.

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