THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michael Showalter Headshot

The Sen. McCain Method of Campaigning

Posted: Updated:

To say that John McCain was "testy" in his recent sit-down interview with reporters in Des Moines is a gross understatement. Having seen excerpts of it I might say "boiling over with white hot anger" would more aptly describe his mood. This is, of course, nothing new. The man is like one of those evil school masters in a Dickens story, whip in hand, just waiting for an opportunity to flog someone, something, anything. Just give him something to flog.

Watch John McCain and you will see a grown man seethe, froth, squirm, stare, glare, intimidate, wince, scowl, grimace, pick your SAT word for "act mean." It's really, well, uncomfortable to watch. I'm not a W fan but truthfully, I think I would like to have a beer with him. After a beer with John McCain, if he didn't kill me, I'd need self esteem classes. I need self esteem classes just from watching him on TV.

I'm one of these people who, in addition to sound judgment, leadership ability, intelligence, and strength, also wants a leader who doesn't scare me to death. I want to feel emboldened not emasculated. His anger arises anytime his authority is questioned. It seems to stem from this notion that because he was a POW that somehow no one is allowed to question his decisions, his judgment, his record. It's the "I was tortured so leave me alone" mode of campaigning and he uses it all the time. "Senator McCain how do you respond to the perception that Sarah Palin is under qualified to be president?" "I was tortured leave me alone." And so on. He's "playing the torture card."

Should overcoming severe adversity become the new prerequisite for leadership? Maybe that rock climber who sawed his own arm off should take a whirl? And If so, I think Barack Obama's got McCain licked. That is unless you think countless centuries of oppression doesn't count. But he can't even mention it. They'd accuse him of "playing the race card."