McCain: Liberty (University) For All!
Like most people on planet Earth, I’m a huge Daily Show fan. And of course one of the real coups of the show has been its ability to attract such compelling guests, often ranging from extremely high-profile politicians to journalists and academics that otherwise would be relegated to the tumbleweed-drifting-through-ghost-town feel of a Charlie Rose interview. But Seymour Hersh, Calvin Trillin, Studs Terkel and the host of other cultural and political luminaries deserve the limelight and it’s a distinct pleasure to see them on a show with such mass-appeal. (Of course, this always makes the token Drew Barrymore interview all the more embarrassing and cringe-worthy. Stick to The View, Drew.)
So, of course it was no surprise to see John McCain check in with his good buddy Stewart on a recent show - prompted, no doubt, by an attempt to defend his decision to deliver the commencement speech at nut-job Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. And McCain’s defense? I’m doing it for the kids, John! Pressed (slightly) on his decision to speak at a school run by a man who represents the fringe of the fringe, McCain stated that he speaks at a lot of schools, such as the dreaded Ivy League universities, whose policies he disagrees with and thus this is no big deal. How bold, Senator. Seriously, is there any difference between speaking at Harvard despite your disagreement with its military recruiter policy and gracing a school with your presence despite your disagreement (he does disagree, right?) with its president’s expressed belief that gays, abortionists, feminists, the ACLU (read: all of New York City) were to blame for the 9/11 attacks? Feh, six of one, half dozen of the other. Another triumphant stop on the Straight Talk express!
Now, of course it was a sickening display by McCain. And, frankly, it is one we should all get used to. You see, watching that episode of the Daily Show, I finally got it. Knowing he will have trouble surviving a Republican primary where his party’s lunatic fringe holds tremendous influence, and yet not wanting to alienate the general electorate, McCain has devised a carefully calculated strategy to batter the public into a dazed confusion about his political leanings by taking increasingly extreme positions on both the right and the left. And it’s working. From Krugman at the New York Times to Jacob Weisberg at Slate, no one really knows what this man stands for. So kudos, Senator McCain. I, for one, am very looking forward to the next several months, where he will undoubtedly treat voters to a thrill ride that includes (1) not only coming out in favor of gay marriage but actually getting engaged to an old army buddy; (2) declaring not only all abortion illegal but also calling for state-sanctioned killing of fetuses whose mothers don’t show sufficient enthusiasm about their forthcoming maternal role; (3) granting immediate asylum to all Mexican immigrants while simultaneously green-lighting a nationwide “Wanted: Dead-or-Alive” manhunt for any Canadian playing fast and loose with the visa rules; (4) legalizing marijuana and outlawing Xanax; and (5) proposing a Constitutional amendment barring any Bush from ever seeking an elected office again.
Hold on to your seats, R&Rers. It’s going to be a bumpy ride on the Straight Talk Express.