John McCain is a severely troubled man. Even if Michael Kinsley says he’s “the best Republican presidential candidate of my lifetime,” even if David Frum calls him a man who “has throughout his career shown a personal candor and humility unusual in national politics,” even if poor old Dean Reynolds thinks McCain’s “campaign plane is better than Obama’s,” he is a severely troubled man. He poses a greater danger to us than George Bush does, or ever did.
John McCain, I’m more and more convinced, is psychologically and morally unhinged. He has usually, in public, managed to control his temper, to sublimate his urges, to mask his feelings. But he is getting older and, and losing the tight grip which for decades has kept his image in place.
- He is reported to be on medication which, while temporarily disguising his problems, will in the long run exacerbate them.
- His gambling addiction suggests a dangerous thrill-seeking personality.
- His handlers are more and more often required to reign him in.
- His verbal slips are more frequent, and more telling.
- His physical twitches prompt questions from medical observers.
And perhaps more than anything — more immediate — his posture, demeanor, and language in the debates with Obama suggest a man whose hand must never be allowed near a nuclear trigger.
Ten years ago, I thought McCain was a hero; he won medals in Viet Nam, and after admitting a few missteps — though the Keating Five scandal should have warned us, we wanted to believe — he was back on the hero stand again. But his morals — if indeed he ever had any — collapsed when he endorsed Bush and the neo-con program. And since then, I’ve gradually come to believe that, not only is he not now the hero he wants us to believe in, he may never have been.
John McCain may turn out to have been the longest-running, most lucrative, most-nearly-perfect con job in US history.
I’m trying to put this all together, but there’s too much for one post. I’ll try to parcel it out in segments between now and the election.