The Good Soldier

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THE GOOD SOLDIER….Jon Chait on Biden’s speech:

What continues to be missing is a frame to explain why John McCain believes all these wrongheaded things he talks about. But it’s very simple. McCain used to stand against the ideologues and moneyed interests of the GOP, but he decided that if he wanted to win the GOP nomination, he had to make himself their ally. I suspect Democrats will regret this when Republicans tear Barack Obama’s character apart next week.

Amy Sullivan expands on this a bit:

A number of speakers have made reference to their personal friendship with John McCain, carefully noting how much they admire him, before going on to criticize him. And that’s effective to a point — “more in sorrow than in anger” plays differently than straight-on attacks.

But Democrats might find it would be more effective if they explained why they’re so disappointed with their friend John McCain. How did this great guy they admire so much became a candidate whose positions appall them? It wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t like he had a personality transplant. And the answer would seem to fit perfectly into a powerful Democratic narrative. John McCain changed because that’s what he had to do to win the Republican nomination. That’s what the reigning conservative ideology and interests demanded of him.

Right. It’s what Biden was getting at when he said, “These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader.” It’s a good line, but too subtle. The expanded version is that McCain has had to prostrate himself to the neocons, the theocons, and the moneycons because that’s what it takes to win the Republican nomination these days: you have to be a good soldier. And one way or another that’s a story that the Democrats need to tell. A laundry list of flip-flops doesn’t make an impression unless you explain what’s behind it.

It’s also why I liked the passage from Bill Clinton’s speech that I highlighted yesterday. He didn’t just tie McCain to George Bush, he tied him directly to the full range of contemporary right-wing dogma. That’s what Obama needs to do too. In some simple way, he needs to make people understand that all the stuff they don’t like about the past eight years isn’t just the fault of one guy’s idiosyncrasies, it’s the fault of an entire worldview. And if you elect McCain, you’re electing that worldview too.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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