Well, what do you know? Somewhere in between the unctious mass media religious ceremonies held on air in his honor we have actually caught ourselves a glimpse of The Real McCain. Not the "maverick," or the "straight talker" or the man of more integrity than Superman + Batman + Abraham Lincoln combined, but The Real John McCain.
Now one can only hope we'll get a more balanced picture from our favorite media mavens. Although I wouldn't necessarily hold my breath on that one.
So let me do my best, as I do have a book coming out on him in May that coincidentally has been named The Real McCain (how many times have I used that phrase now?). The key thing to understand, is that as Republicans liked to say during the Clinton/Lewinsky saga in 1998, it's not the sex, it's the...well, actually, it"s the sex too. John McCain named his bus the Straight Talk Express. You didn't. John McCain constantly references his unimpeachable integrity. You don't.
So he has chosen, through his media flacks' careful branding and the faithful transcribing of the adoring David Brookses of the world, to constantly portray himself in this manner. Therefore, whether he lives up to his Barry Goldwater meets The Beaver (the TV show, you nasty, dirty readers) persona is directly relevant here.
Most people probably don't know that his current wife, Cindy McCain nee Hensley, began as an affair while he was married to his first wife. You know, the one who took care of his kids and faithfully waited for his return from Vietnam (where, by the way, he absolutely served honorably, and showed the kind of courage I only wish he'd show in Washington). How very Newt Gingrich of him.
Many are also unaware, because somehow it has evaded the media's radar, that he's surrounded himself with more lobbyists than Jack Abramoff on a golf outing. Vicki Iseman, and his actions on behalf of her clients, is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Rick Davis, his campaign manager. Corporate lobbyist. Charlie Black, one of his chief advisors. Corporate lobbyist. We could continue, but The Huffington Post would cut me off and close the bar before I would finish.
John McCain has done many honorable things in his life. Some of them, such as his stances on campaign finance reform, a gun-show loophole and carbon emissions came during his brief period of political sanity, which lasted from about 1999 until 2004 (hmm, what happened in 2004 that might have changed things...).
But much of his tenure in Washington has been marred by behavior entirely at odds with the image that has been granted him. It's time the media told us the truth. We can handle the truth.