It took exactly seven days.
Politics does crazy things to people and there is always a point after an election, when I watch a candidate who’s essentially in a two year job interview, revert back to themselves. Bob Dole did it in 1996. Loosened up. Did a Pepsi commercial with Hallie Eisenberg (yes, I know the name of the Pepsi girl) and a few slightly disturbing Viagra spots. Al Gore did it in 2000. He grew a beard, did some episodes of Futurama, lost the stiffness and was warm and friendly and not the VPGoreBot2000 I watched in debates.
And in 2004… well, John Kerry is John Kerry.
In 2008, it took John McCain exactly seven days for him to show up on The Tonight Show and be warm and friendly. Self-effacing without being self-deprecating. Funny without embarrassing himself. That Take-No-Prisoners Cranky Old Man yelling at kids for loud music and frisbees in his yard was gone. The Old rational John McCain was back.
I have voted in five elections. I don’t regret any of my decisions. Twice for Clinton and anyone who wants to remark how horrible the Clinton years were, I’ll remind you those “Tax And Spend Liberals” paid off the national debt, left a three trillion dollar surplus and I don’t once recall seeing homemade mannequins of Bill set on fire in other countries. I didn’t vote for George Bush either term and when my kids learn about 9/11 twenty years from now and ask me about George Bush I can tell them, “I didn’t vote for him.” I can’t blame George Bush for causing the country’s ills but I can blame his Clark Griswold methods in dealing with them.
Someone pointed out where we’d be had John McCain won in 2000. For a moment my brain just stopped. I had never considered the idea. It was one of those things that seemed so obvious. People have asked me what I think would have happened after 9/11 had Gore been elected. The idea being that Democrats aren’t known to pull the trigger so fast and somehow Al Gore would have the power to avoid a war. It wouldn’t have mattered. We were going to war. I don’t think Iraq would have happened and I think the efforts would have been much more focused. The idea that losing against an enemy you can’t find wouldn’t have been foreign, something the Bush Administration and John McCain refuse to believe is possible. Sometimes Americans lose. Judging by the amount of Civil War bumper stickers I see daily, we refuse to admit it, but sometimes we lose. But would we have been better off had McCain won in 2000? I think so.
Every now and again the real John McCain would peek out. A woman who’s done her own research and can’t trust Arabs and the old McCain surfaces and tells her he’s a decent Christian patriot and gets booed by his own crowd for his trouble. You can’t say that while your VP pick is telling people he pals around with terrorists (and even more importantly, if that were true and a threat, the better question is why did you and ninety-nine other Senators let him sit in the Senate and make decisions for the country)? You can’t say “Change Is Coming” and you’re a Maverick (copyright 1982, John McCain Enterprises) when someone has you on a clip saying you voted with George Bush 90% of the time. You can’t say “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” and two hours later claim they are weak and stop your campaign to fix it. You’re not Warren Buffet and quite frankly I could probably throw a rock on Wall Street and hit anybody that knows more about finances than McCain and 90% of the people in the Senate. Being a millionaire doesn’t make you a financial genius the same way being a prisoner of war will make you an American hero (deservedly so) but doesn’t make you George Patton.
George Carlin has said on politics, Americans don’t hate liars, we expect politicians to lie. We hate hypocrites.
I, like many others, said had McCain ran against Gore in 2000 I would have had some decisions to make. It’s been said many times during this election that this isn’t the John McCain of 2000 and 2004 but I am glad to have him back now. Politics does crazy things to people.
I picture Joe Lieberman smashing a giant alien pod with a shovel and out back in a shed the real John McCain awakens… and somewhere Sarah Palin points and screeches.