As this most entertaining election cycle comes to a conclusion, I went back and read my Six Reasons post and felt I should update it with what I've learned in the eight weeks since I first wrote it.
I believe we've learned a lot about McCain's character and his fitness to govern from watching his campaign. And I think what we have learned is not positive, and leads me to conclude even more strongly that a vote for this man is not just a mistake, but an indictment of the voter's intelligence and powers of observation.
McCain's whole campaign has been about character. He really has not offered more than a crumb of policy discussion in the last several months. To the extent he has discussed them, his economic policies are incoherent -- like a moron reciting Ronald Reagan's talking points without really understanding the underlying issues (gee, kind of like every Sarah Palin interview, come to think of it).
What have we seen of McCain's "character"? We've seen a despicable, angry, name-calling jerk. He's an embarrassment to the American political culture. He's called his opponent a terrorist sympathizer (and doesn't object when others forget the "sympathizer" part and call Obama an actual terrorist); he's called him every 20th century name for commie that he can think of (socialist, marxist, redistributionist); he's called him naive, disloyal, dangerous, duplicitous, a Manchurian candidate, a fey academic, you name it. Pathetic.
This is McCain's character. A sense of senatorial entitlement and complete contempt for the American people as intelligent, cautious and independent-minded. Just yell a bunch of 1950's buzzwords and get them to vote with their emotions. The problem for the old bastard is that it ain't the 1950's any more.
And, once and for all, fuck John McCain's "service to our country" narrative (which, by way of reminder, was primarily as a POW in Vietnam; not exactly George Washington or Andrew Jackson or Ike territory, folks). If that's a reason to vote for him, we are a bunch of cretins. Any honor he accrued in Vietnam has been squandered in the sordid pathos of this campaign (and, before that, in the sordid personal history he accumulated post-war). He has absolutely no claim to being a viable commander in chief because of his captivity in Vietnam. It's completely idiotic.
More troubling even than the character issue is what we've learned about his fitness to govern. I'm not even going to get into the Palin pick -- all that needs to be said has been said better, by others. But back in August I wrote that he "surrounds himself with mediocre people" and the Palin pick is no exception. He has no interest in policy -- at a time of insane fragility of the American system of government and economy, this is reason enough not to vote for him. I believe he is clinically bi-polar, and I can't imagine a worse mental disorder to have in a president. He doesn't listen to anyone but himself. He's a compulsive gambler. The fatigue of the campaign trail has made him seem increasingly senile (his attempt to remember the 5th secretary of state who endoresed him on NBC was scary/pathetic). And he is going to die soon, perhaps very soon, leaving a potential power vacuum that defies historical comparison.
McCain is totally unfit to lead this nation. He really is George W. Bush with a little more gravitas -- dumb, narcissistic, mean-spirited, petty, anti-intellectual. We really don't need more of that shit.