The Fourth of July should be a day for family and flags and hot dogs. If there’s anything you don’t want on the Fourth, it’s a case of the political dry-heaves from a NY Times chin-puller about a guy you once respected, a long time ago — Arizona Senator John McCain.
And yet, this Times piece will do the trick — if you’ve got the nerve.
Jim Rutenberg and Adam Nagourney trace McCain’s subtle and not so subtle movements toward the Bush camp, beginning back during the bad old days of the 2004 election. Bush was in trouble with Independents — McCain’s people. And McCain’s name was synonymous with Satan in the Deep South — Bush’s folks.
Mutual butt-smooching ensued (see disturbing iconic NY Times photo in facing column).
But what really gives the piece that extra, gut-churning quality is the particular way McCain now speaks of Bush. There’s a deliberately sentimental, emotional quality to his language. Here McCain talks about his personal mission: bucking up a Commander-in-Chief mired in bad poll numbers.
“Behind the scenes, during a month in which he repeatedly came to Mr. Bush’s public defense, Mr. McCain called the president to offer words of support, he recounted in an interview.
“‘I said, ‘Look, hang on, things are bad,’ Mr. McCain said. ‘I said, ‘I’m proud of the job you are doing, and I wanted you to know that I will continue to do what I can to help.’
“‘I’ve tried, when his numbers went down, to be more supportive and outspoken, because I’d love to pick him up,’ Mr. McCain said.
I’d love to pick him up.
You see VDB’s point — this is not about showing support for the President, or even mending fences, nothing that everyday. This is about deliberately using the rhetoric of deep friendship, kinship, sentimentality — even love — to telegraph something beyond a political alliance.
What McCain is asking for is this: that die-hard Conservatives transfer their deepest, unreasoned affections to him, using Bush as an emotional conduit.
And the kicker? We find out that McCain has had a nickname for the last couple of years: “‘He calls me Johnny Mac,’ Mr. McCain said.”
And we all know — because the White House has hyped it relentlessly since before Bush formally took office — that a nickname means the President really, really thinks you’re cool.
As we said above, this may cause you to lose your barbeque on this Fourth of July, and we apologize for any discomfort.
But we can’t resist one more choice bit.
Regular readers will remember that as far back as December of last year, VDB has predicted that the eventual GOP team in 2008 will be McCain/Bush — as in brother Jeb.
Two key grafs from that 2005 post, laying out the advantages of the pairing:
“It allows Jeb to bask in the reflected glory of both his brother’s militarism and McCain’s, no small consideration for a Southern Governor without any significant military experience post-9/11.
“It makes McCain a lock in the South: he’ll have the perfect VP candidate for religious conservatives, and he himself will sweep the Veteran vote. Given McCain’s own strength in the West, and his attraction for independents in the rest of the country, a McCain/Jeb ticket could make Reagan’s totals look anemic.”
Consider those lines in conjunction with these from yesterday’s Times piece:
“On the other side of the divide, some of Mr. McCain’s supporters made it clear in interviews that the McCain camp viewed Mr. Bush’s brother Jeb, the governor of Florida, as an ideal running mate for Mr. McCain. This news would presumably be pleasing to President Bush, who has made it clear in recent weeks that he would like his brother to move onto the national stage.”
The Money is already on the move, my friends — behind McCain, who then tag-teams with Bush the Younger, who then steps in for his own two terms.
This is the nature of present-day corporate oligarchy: it works through families, imposes its will through loose dynastic structures, and it speaks in the language of the heart.
Johnny Mac. Lord help us all.