The McCain Brand

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Is John McCain’s reputation permanently damaged?

Josh Marshall says:

I’ve been thinking over the last few days that if John McCain loses this election he will have lost much more than the presidency. His reputation as an honest and honorable politician will be wrecked, I suspect, for good — particularly among centrist and independent voters and the centrist commentator class in New York and Washington.

I know what he means, and I have been having similar thoughts. Since I have thought that the media has been fawning over McCain for, well, years, the recent change has been welcome. A democracy needs a critical, assertive press to function properly. (Note, not a rabid pack of snarling dogs, just regular fact-checking and journalism.)

But my first thought when I read the above was Hillary Clinton. I had supported her in a general way until her campaign took a nosedive into really ugly territory in the primaries. As things got worse and worse (probably around when she declared that the people of Florida were being disenfranchised), I started to actively dislike her. And Bill! My first vote ever was cast for Bill, and I watched his inauguration with tears streaming down my cheeks. But his conduct during the primaries washed away my respect for him almost entirely.

Up until Hillary’s concession speech I thought that I would never vote for her, at all, for anything. I was absolutely disgusted with her.

Then I thought the concession speech was good, but I was still mad. (“It’ll take more than that, Hillary!”)

Then she actually seemed to move into campaigning for Obama.

And gave a good Democratic National Convention speech.

And accorded with what the Obama campaign wanted re: Sarah Palin.

And I find that I’m just not that mad at her anymore.

Now, it’s possible that this is mostly about Sarah Palin. (“I knew Hillary Clinton, Governor, and you’re no Hillary Clinton.”) (What do you want to bet Biden will say some variation of that on Thursday? But I digress.) But I also think that there is a certain tendency to give politicians a bit of a break if they commit their misdemeanors in the course of campaigning. Everyone knows that campaigning is a horrible, knuckle-dragging thing. I have been very, very impressed with how Obama has conducted his campaign overall, but even he has had his moments.

I think that it’s likely that once this is all over, McCain will be able to convince a lot of people that he was just Doing What He Had to Do, and that of course deep inside he’s still the same person they always thought he was.

Not all of ’em though.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. engineer  •  Sep 30, 2008 @6:50 am

    It will be interesting if McCain can still “work across the isle” after his campaign went low early and often