David Brooks has another McCain op-ed up, and it’s a doozy. His introduction:
I think first of the personal qualities. He was an unfailingly candid man. When other politicians described a meeting, they always ended up the heroes of the story. But McCain would always describe the meeting straight, emphasizing his own failings with more vigor than his accomplishments.
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.
I don’t begrudge Brooks his personal affection for McCain, but does he really have to impose a long-form character reference on the rest of us? I’m not mortally offended by McCain’s recent spate of misleading advertisements – politics, as they say, ain’t beanbag – but surely his choice of campaign tactics also says something about the man’s character. As a friend and confidant, everything I’ve heard about McCain suggests he’d be first-rate, but when it comes to politics he certainly knows how to take the gloves off.
I’m also not sure what the rest of us are supposed to take from this sort of column. Is David Brooks’ personal testimonial sufficient to sway my vote? No, nor should it be. Brooks himself is forced to fall back on McCain’s experience and independence after he admits the candidate’s ideology is borderline incoherent. Candidate McCain is quite different from the McCain who romanced Brooks and every other op-ed columnist circa 2000, and Candidate McCain is who I’m forced to evaluate on the merits. So far, he hasn’t impressed.