WILL HAS NO USE FOR MCCAIN…. It’s probably fair to say conservative columnist George Will has been thoroughly unimpressed by John McCain of late. He’s blasted McCain for “behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high.” Will has lamented McCain’s “dismaying temperament.” He’s described McCain as “childish,” “shallow,” and suffering from a “Manichaean worldview.”
And today, Will labeled McCain “John the Careless,” citing among other things, McCain picking Sarah Palin for the GOP ticket because he seemed to believe “never having attended a ‘Georgetown cocktail party’ is sufficient qualification for the vice presidency.”
The column is worth reading, but this is the paragraph that stood out for me:
Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain’s question for his briefer was: “So, who is the villain?”
This is amusing, but it’s also important. McCain’s appreciation for policy complexities doesn’t exist. Maybe he’s impatient, maybe he’s easily confused, maybe both. But McCain not only prefers to see the world as black and white, good guy vs. bad guy, he needs this dynamic to make sense of current events. Subtleties, nuances, and depth are inconvenient, and therefore dismissed.
Indeed, we saw this clearly just a few days ago. Criticizing Obama’s policy on nuclear energy, McCain described the security of spent fuel, the storage of nuclear waste, and nuclear proliferation as — and I quote — “blah blah blah.” Don’t bother him with details; just tell him who the enemy is and which direction to start attacking. Intellectual seriousness is for wusses.
There are three key angles to this. First, it’s about the single worst quality a president can have, especially in a time of crisis.
Second, it helps explain why McCain’s attacks against Obama have been almost entirely personal. Obama, as far as McCain is concerned, “is the villain.” He doesn’t deserve respect; he deserves, McCain seems to believe, to be destroyed.
And third, McCain’s style is so similar to Bush’s worldview, it’s frightening. The only key difference is Bush, who famously boasted that he doesn’t “do nuance,” generally approached politics with a genial attitude. McCain likes to “reduce controversies to cartoons,” but with angry and erratic temperament.