Today's New York Times column by conservative David Brooks is a must read. And no. It's not, as many on the right would have you believe about anything you read in N-Y-T, a Republican-bashing pinko-commie rant. It's not.
Actually, Brooks pens the most compelling character argument about Sen. John McCain I've read in months. It's also some well-deserved perspective on McCain's campaign, potential presidency, and career, which — as Brooks notes — existed many years beyond the "stupidity" and "show-business" of the 2008 election. David, take it away.
He is, for a politician, a humble man. The most important legacy of his prisoner-of-war days is that he witnessed others behaving more heroically than he did. This experience has given him a basic honesty when appraising himself.
His mood darkened as the Iraq war deteriorated, but his accomplishments mounted. I don't think any senator had as impressive a few years as McCain did during this span of time.
... when people try to tell me that the McCain on the campaign trail is the real McCain and the one who came before was fake, I just say, baloney. I saw him. A half-century of evidence is there.
If McCain is elected, he will retain his instinct for the hard challenge. With that Greatest Generation style of his, he will run the least partisan administration in recent times. He is not a sophisticated conceptual thinker, but he is a good judge of character. He is not an organized administrator, but he has become a practiced legislative craftsman. He is, above all — and this is completely impossible to convey in the midst of a campaign — a serious man prone to serious things.
Amid the stupidity of this season, it seemed worth stepping back to recall the fundamentals — about McCain today and Obama on some other day in the near future.
Read the entire thing.
Are you ready for the surprise twist? Elite opinion at the traditionally conservative Washington Post couldn't take a more different stance on McCain. Columnist Eugene Robinson lambasts McCain for "making his temperament an inescapable issue in the presidential campaign." Meanwhile, columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. says McCain's sudden intervention in Washington's deliberations over the Wall Street bailout "could not have been more out of sync with what was actually happening."
Blood sausage: In Washington state, there were a host of debates yesterday. Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and Republican challenger Dino Rossi faced off for the second time, and, like the first debate, it was filled with opponent-aimed barbs. Still, a key moment seemed to when Rossi rejected any affiliation to the Republican president, George W. Bush. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"He's not running here, I'm not President Bush," Rossi said. "My dad wasn't president of the United States, my dad was a school teacher."
Rossi said the more important issue is the projected revenue shortfall for the next two-year budget period.
"The $3.2 billion budget deficit is not the fault of the president or anybody else; she needs to look in the mirror," he said.
For his question, Rossi asked Gregoire to defend her budget.
"I do not want the policies of Washington, D.C., brought to the great state of Washington," she said. Gregoire said that under her leadership, the state has invested in education "to make sure you have the skilled work force you need for tomorrow."
Bloodless: For the debate between the two candidates running for state commissioner of public lands, it was significantly less attack-oriented — most notably because incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland didn't show up until after it was over. ...
Not cutting class: Kira Millage of the Bellingham Herald reports the debate between 12-year incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson and challenger Randy Dorn resulted in few agreements — only the promise of continued education reform in Washington. ...