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McCain’s Demons Rise Again
It wasn’t quite a Hail Mary pass. More like Hail Marty, as I inadvertently wrote in the preview—Marty being the Everyman plumber, officially named “Joe,” that John McCain attempted to turn into the debate’s headliner. It looked like McCain was onto something in the first half hour. There he was, punching away. But nothing landed enough to shake Obama. Then McCain’s punches turned to flails, the way he kept bringing up that “Joe” as if the entire national economy rested on the fate of a quarter-million-dollar business owner who seems astounded that he should be paying taxes.

 

From punches to flail to unadulterated anger: a 90-minute arc of creepiness that built into a crescendo all the way to McCain’s closing, which sounded like the pleadings of an old aristocrat begging voters to take him over the other guy because of that “long line of McCains.” Still fighting his demons, that one.

But the smellier part of the debate was the whole Joe-the-Plumber thing. Who is this guy, Joe Wurzelbacher, allegedly a plumber who wanted to buy his own business but was discouraged by the prospects of paying too much taxes? Have a look at him—his demeanor, his, calculated poise, his martial bearing. Better yet: have a listen. He’s all talking points. Has anyone checked his background? The guy sounds as polished as his skull, too polished to be an average Joe, too obviously coached not to have been a well-timed plant by the McCain campaign, with an assist from Rove, to create exactly the sort of Everyman narrative McCain lunged for, entirely unbelievably, during the debate.

That was his big gambit. I’ll be waiting over the next few days, if not the next few hours, for the right bloggers to get on the plumber’s trail and fish out his “associations.” Bottom line: this was all a sideshow that confirms McCain’s Strangelove nature. I laugh every time I hear his henchmen either wonder where the “old McCain” was or cheer at the “return” of the old McCain. There never has been an old McCain. There’s just a McCain who’s old, and who’s been showing us every day on the trail who he really is. A man possessed. I made the point in the very first piece I wrote about him before he decided to run for president. The point stands. McCain can’t get past his demons.

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