Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Personal Asides: McCain as the Latter Day Wendell Willkie Bidens Wife, a Shameless Enabler for Her Husband Krauthammers Prophecy.
McCain as Willkie.
Retrospectively, John McCain was the best opponent for Barack Obama possible to find. The answer is in the numbers: McCain between 4 and 5 points ahead of Obama all the way through until the economic meltdown. I dont think the real Messiah of Galilee could stem the tide of an avalanche of an unpopular war and a fearsome serious recession happening on the Republican watch in 2008. You can review all the bidding and Ive done it McCains inability to discuss economics beyond elimination of earmarks his two-day gap in Washington when the financial crisis erupted his staffs mishandling of a very good vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and it still comes out the same way. McCain would likely be inaugurated this noon instead of Obama if the financial tsunami hadnt hit.
That having been said, there lingers in McCain as with almost all political candidates a desire to be admiredand what better than to join hands with his victor and have some of Obamas popularity rub off? This is what Wendell L. Willkie did after his run against Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. Willkie was a wunderkind, a successful lawyer businessman who had never run for public office before, with the refreshing aura of independence. He followed two terrible runs (in 1932) by Herbert Hoover and 1936 by Alf Landon: both heavy and imponderable politicians and chalked up a marvelous popular vote. He was young, vigorous, and 47.
Willkie was probably the first presidential candidate to campaign on alternative media: appearances on highly rated quiz shows that were all the rage, scoring extraordinarily favorable coverage in Life magazine and Time But after he lost the election, Willkie went Hollywood. He eschewed many of his campaign speeches, attributing them as campaign oratory. He loved the limelight and embraced Roosevelt, traveling the world, changing his tune on interventionism. When he tried again for the nomination in 1944, he lost the Wisconsin primary. He was an outcast to his party because he had gone to the left on so many issues in contrast to his campaign his credibility was gone. History was merciful to him in that he died very early in 1944.
John McCain knows what it is to cross the aisle sometimes pander across the aisle to get liberal attention: notably on the environment and the McCain-Feingold bill. He got the nomination despite those grievous errors. But now at 72 the old warrior savors a return to the liberal limelight.
Watch McCain to try to take a major role in enacting the Obama program through the Congress. Some of it is okay but John has been down that track before, lasciviously courting the liberal media. Wendell Willkie became the Judas Goat of the Republican party. John McCain just may want to do the same thing so that he is savored in his old age. Its time to remember he is not the party nominee, is not the party spokesman but a single senator. This is not to say no dealings with the Obama administration can be madebut a media glory-hound using his last run to ingratiate himself once more with the media gets tiring.
Many years ago Illinois Republicans used to say that John B. Andersons wife was corrupt. Let me elucidate. Wives are supposed to keep husbands egos in checkespecially political wives. Keke Anderson constantly told her congressman husband he was presidential caliber. To have a wife say that is corruptive. Her fawning praise had a terrible effect. Gov. Richard Ogilvie had a chance to make a senatorial appointment to replace the late Everett Dirksen. Keke Anderson lobbied for it so strenuously, assailing any competitors that whatever chance Anderson had was overruled when Ogilvie appointed House Speaker Ralph Tyler Smith. Following which Keke libeled Ogilvie, the entire Republican party and by dint of steady effusive praise let John Anderson leftward to the point that when he did run for president in 1980 he had no political base left.
Then after he lost, she cajoled him out of the Republican party. He ran as an independent and got 7%.
Jill Biden is the same kind of womanslavishly promotive of her husband. Jill and Joe Biden appeared on the Oprah show the other day and Jill announced that the president-elect offered Joe a choiceeither secretary of state or vice president. To show himself off as a regular guy, Biden put his finger to his lips and said shhh.
Joe Biden has committed a number of faux pas on his own and is a walking basket case of malapropisms. If the media were honest in its coverage of the 2008 campaign, it would have targeted his obvious ineptitudes: his announcement that FDR went on television to steady the nations nerves during the Crash of `29. His falsification of his resume, his invention of facts that can be easily checked shows character imbalance, a vain, insecure man who wants to strut as if he were the smartest guy in the room. All have been humiliatingly repudiated although the media covered up for him so as not to endanger the Obama campaign.
Anyone who knows history about how vice presidential nominees are chosen, understands that a presidential candidate would NOT say, Joe you have a choice of secretary of state or vice president. Things are not offered that way. The single most important offer is the vice presidential nomination: that is what Biden was offered and thats what he snapped up. One can imagine that in the conversation, Obama could say: Joe, youre expertise is such that you can serve well as secretary of state but its vice president that I want you to fill.
The rationale of this weird blurt by Jill Biden is easily fathomed. First of all, it was not a blurt but probably planned. Joe Biden the consummate egotist feels a bit of out of since his supposed expertise on foreign policy is overshadowed by Hillary Clinton. Thus this pathetic little segue hauntingly embarrassing in that it underscores the deepest insecurity was allowed to go forth on Oprah while Joe smilingly tried to shush her up.
All the more reason for us to pray for the continued health of President Obama. With two serious brain aneurisms that brought him close to death, Bidens terrible gaffes including this one give all Americans something to fear.
A couple of evenings ago, when asked whether Obama will wear the collar for the recession if things arent turned around speedily in his administration, Charles Krauthammer whom I regard as without peer said that yes indeed the sour times if allowed to continue will devalue his presidency.
Which I dont believe for a moment. Amity Shlaes shows how the FDR wild experimentation convinced the voters that at least he was trying. The compliant, suplne media will be in Obamas corner throughout and even if nothing is accomplished, his sunny visage of hope-hope-hope will be portrayed in Rooseveltian style.