Johnny, We Hardly Know You

Is John McCain the real thing? Do his broadly advertised images stand up to serious research and study, or is he essentially a phony?

I know, I know, he’s a hero and a maverick and straight shooter. A man of the people and a public figure who’s willing — even happy — to sit down with the press. Tell it like it is.

Stop now. Go back and look at the above. How much of that holds up after the events of the past few days?

  • Half-million dollar credit card charges, seven (or is it six or nine) houses, thirteen cars, fifty-five hundred dollars for make-up (John, not Cindy).
  • Campaign staff and financial advisors who not only benefitted handsomely from the bogus financial gadgetry of the past eight years, but actually helped engineer it.
  • Still tentative but increasingly troublesome questions about his military record, including work in Congress to hide his own record and to prevent families of other POWs and MIAs from getting the truth.
  • A near-shutout of the press for nearly two months, an increasingly dirty advertising campaign based on lies and innuendo, and occasional — though after eight years of W, we shouldn’t find it strange in a Presidential candidate — moments of blank incoherence.

Ah, you say, but still, there’s Sarah Palin. Her Golden Archness. Everywoman with a view of Russia. The VP candidate who’s not quite ready for prime time.

NOT READY? Didn’t she deliver just a dandy kick-ass speech at the convention?

Well, she did read pretty well off the teleprompter. If that kind of speechifying makes one Presidential, then I guess she, not Johnny1200, should be at the top of the ticket. If, however, we value the ability to offer cogent answers to straightforward questions about the major issues of the day, she belongs back in her small town in Alaska.

She did an extended interview with Sean Hannity on Fox. It’s in two parts: here and here. Sean Hannity, on Fox. About as sympathetic and gentle an interview as a Republican could get.

How did she do? I won’t both posting it, but if you’ve a hankering for vague and pointless drivel in the guise of contemporary journalism, take a look. Even some of the people at Fox were abashed at her inability to make it from one end of a paragraph to the other without notes.

For a somewhat more balanced look at Palin, there’s an interview with Katie Couric. Let me introduce it with Naomi Klein’s description of Palin as “George Bush in drag.” Not that I want to prejudice your viewing.

The title — I’ve learned the hard way never to assume my cultural references match everyone else’s cultural interests — is from an Irish anti-war song. It’s been recorded dozens of times, and was the basis for the 19th century American song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

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