Once More, With (No) Feeling

Did you see John McCain on Meet the Press this morning? (You can watch it on MSNBC’s site, if you missed it.)

Jesus, but he sounded tired. I mean, frighteningly tired. The whole segment was about Iraq, and McCain seemed to have zero energy to pretend that the "surge" is going to be successful. He knows he has to say it will, of course; the political calculus forces him to. And he has to pretend to be optimistic about Iraq, to believe that it can still be won. But he doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for the role. As he mouthed the platitudes he sounded weak, unconvincing, tired.

My opinion of McCain has fallen pretty dramatically over the years; I actually crossed party lines to vote for him in the Republican primary in Ohio in 2000 instead of voting for any candidates in my own party’s primary. Today, though, after many years of watching him toe the Bush line and refuse to fight back even on issues that should be core for him, like torture, for fear of Offending the Base, I see him as more a tragic figure than anything else. It’s like seeing a man sell his soul to the devil to get his fondest wish fulfilled, only to find that having what he always wanted isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

He still hasn’t declared himself a candidate for President. I hope he doesn’t — despite my dislike for his current incarnation, I still think he deserves to end his career with some dignity; and I can’t help but think that having to campaign for two years as The Guy Who’s Even More Hawkish Than George Bush won’t give him much of a chance for that.