Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where do you live-a, John?

I haven't been able to put my finger on the passage, but I'm sure it was Machiavelli who said, "If the enemy has determined to tread upon his own salami, refrain from all interference." It took John McCain exactly thirty seconds to go from plausible president to confused old man who can't remember how many dwellings he owns. At least he has a full-time driver, so there won't be any of those embarrassing where-did-I-park who-took-my-keys episodes.

Of course, it's not strictly speaking an Important Political Issue, like the economy, the war, the other war, the price of gas, global climate change, immigration, unemployment, Russian acts of aggression, public schools, poverty, are you as bored as I am? But it's just the kind of thing to galvanize a fickle, largely apolitical electorate with the attention span of a baby squirrel, and it won't go quietly. Some day they'll turn out the lights in Beijing and Jay Leno will be back, and he'll need something to make fairly obvious jokes about. The Democrats are being a lot more proactive than they were in the past, with a commercial already on the air. And the foreclosures grind on, and several million people aren't sure where they'll be getting their Christmas cards. Eventually yelping "arugula" and "Vietnam" will have the same effect on the voters that Giuliani's endlessly repeated "911" had. Remember Giuliani? He's a private citizen in the security business today. When people face the ballot the big issues fade from their minds like last year's Academy Award winners, and they remember the trivia: Dukakis in the tank, Poppy Doc Bush at the supermarket, Sargent Shriver impressing Brooklyn by consuming a kosher hot dog with a glass of milk. (Not that McCain is likely to commit that faux pas -- he carries Joe Lieberman around in his pocket in case he finds himself in a room with voters who speak only Yiddish.)

There is a way out. McCain needs to drop dead.

Let me finish. Eight years ago Mel Carnahan died, and went on to win a Senate seat from John Ashcroft. (The people of Missouri were wiser than the Cheney-Bush regime, which promptly hired Ashcroft as the first of its many miserable attorneys general.) Dying could be the ultimate service McCain can do for his country. He has as good as acknowledged he probably wouldn't live long enough for a second term. His medical records couldn't be examined in full by a team of reporters in the three hours they were allotted. All he has to do now is stop availing himself of the free medical care enjoyed by the princes and princesses of the Senate (which they evidently do not believe should be available to their subjects). And if I may again cite Machiavelli (who, by the way, was imprisoned and tortured but didn't whine about it): "Screw 'em. What can they do to you when you're dead?"



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