McCain's Inner Voice

I’ve had this theory about John McCain’s presidential campaign for months now, probably since right around the time Barack Obama was wrapping up the Democratic nomination and the rest of the country was marveling at the surreality of a race between a short, older, white man and a tall, young, black man. (It’s like Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy. Pick your favorite and start rooting.)

I said - aloud, to my husband and my son, so that someone would hear me say it and so that when all the pundits were saying it and it showed up as a chapter in McCain’s memoirs, I could say “Hey, I said that first!” - that John McCain doesn’t really want to win. Either subconsciously or not so subconsciously, at key times in the campaign he does just the opposite of what you would do if you really wanted to become president really really bad.

When he announced to all the world that he voted with George Bush’s policies 90 percent of the time, I said it. I still liked him a little bit then, so I winced. When he said it didn’t matter how long we were in Iraq, as long as our soldiers were safe, I said it, still wincing. When he chose as his running mate an unknown governor who was already involved in an abuse of power scandal and who was best known for her glasses, I said it. Not wincing so much now.

I said it again at a point in the campaign when all the experts said he should be talking about specific positive things he would do, and instead he began to focus on negative things about Barack Obama. And I said it louder when he went all Republican, conservative and un-mavericky.

“He doesn’t really want to win.”

It was like he was self-sabotaging his own campaign. I half expected him to, after blurting out something, look off camera and say, “Did I just say that out loud?”

I don’t know if it’s an angel on his shoulder or a devil, but someone is whispering in his ear, “John, buddy, come on. You don’t want to be president. Think back through history. What good can come of this? You’ve already got a trophy wife, a boat load of money, a reputation as a war hero, and you killed on SNL. Sit back and enjoy retirement in your indoor-outdoor garden room.”

Now I think his campaign advisers have a death wish too. The whole bunch of them are hearing the voice.

A couple of nights ago, Sarah Palin was sent into the middle of a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. If you’ve ever lived anywhere near Philadelphia, if you’ve ever been to a professional hockey game, you know better. But apparently the McCain campaign didn’t know. Do they know anything about professional hockey? Isn’t Sarah Palin from Alaska? Every Joe Sixpack knows that even 3-year-old hockey breeds a vicious bunch of fans, spectators and parents. Do they know anything about Philadelphia? (Someone on a message board said, “Philly booed Santa.”) Do they know anything about how cheap and accessible the beer is at a professional sports event in this country? Do they have any idea the volatile combination of all these things and the havoc they can wreak when a public official walks out onto the ice? Palin’s lucky someone didn’t jump the plexiglass and bite her.

Philadelphians + hockey + beer + politician = What were these guys thinking?

The fact that she was only booed is a miracle. And I guess she could have done worse. She could have slipped on the ice.

I’ve been to Flyers games. Before the first puck was dropped, some guy tried to pee on me, there was nacho cheese sauce on my shoulder and blood was trickling down from the seats above me.

This latest blunder has me thinking that the McCain campaign is either the biggest bunch of misinformed, out-of-touch, clueless men in suits who know about as much about running a presidential campaign as those guys in the stands at the Flyers game, or - and here I go again - “they don’t really want to win.”

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