McCain's Stunts

| Fri Sep. 26, 2008 12:10 PM EDT

McCAIN'S STUNTS....John McCain biographer Matt Welch writes in the LA Times today about McCain's fondness for political stunts designed to draw attention to his own virtue:

But if McCain's latest "country-first" outburst is a mostly empty symbol in terms of actual campaigning, it's a meaningful one in other ways. By taking what was originally Obama's behind-the-scenes initiative of cobbling together a joint candidate statement on the bailout package and opportunistically turning that into yet another chance to portray his patriotism as shinier than his opponent's, McCain is ripping what little facade remains over his campaign. This is not an election about ideas or policy; it's an election about a Great Man, facing down an interloper.

....But as many Great Men come to learn, there is a colossal downside built into running a campaign on outsized personal virtue. The line between stoic, honorable service and showy moral vanity is oftentimes difficult to maintain.

And when a candidate confuses his own political ambitions with the fortunes of his country, that's when Great Men turn into self- parodies.

On the other hand, David Brooks, even after watching the events of the past two weeks, can still say of McCain, "He is, above all — and this is completely impossible to convey in the midst of a campaign — a serious man prone to serious things." He might want to rethink that.