I like John McCain. He seems like a genuinely nice fellow. And unlike other past decisions of mine, I will say that while I would not have supported McCain in 2000 knowing what I know now, my decision stands given what was knowable at the time. I do in fact think that his heart is in the right place, and unlike many of my fellow American lefties, I believe that his calls for national service and national greatness are respectable. Mass economic sacrifice for social insurance and the environment, mass government service for emergency response and the occasional crazy man's strike at Pearl Harbor, all good things. Matt Yglesias thinks that his call for service for its own sake is crazy; I think that the country would be well-served by sticking most of our youth in uniform for a couple of years, preferably to pick up trash and receive EMS training, but possibly to serve in You Know What.
But ... even though my respected colleague Niall Ferguson has attested to the man's character, the more I find out about Senator McCain, the more I think he's simply flat-out stupid.
And so, as a public service, here is a slightly overlong video of their man's greatest hits. Enjoy.
UPDATE: "Stupid," I'm now convinced is far too harsh, and certainly incorrect. My difficulty with McCain is how readily he abandoned so many of his 2000 positions in 2004, without any new facts coming to light that might have caused such a re-evaluation. It was pure, crass political expediency. Now the man feels free to dissemble all the time --- about the political complexities in Iraq, the history of American diplomacy, and even Obama's factual statements. He's also taken nonsensical positions on taxes and health care while fearmongering about Iran.
I can only find three positive things to say. First, his climate change plan, while a giveaway to emitting companies, is a giveaway that reduces corporate opposition and might be smart politics. Second, he supports free trade, and while my own doubts are growing, that's still probably the best position on average. Of course, that means diddly with a Democratic congress, which is the third positive thing: with no coattails to speak of, Congress would constrain him from doing crazy things at home (like his tax plan) ... emphasis on at home.
But here's an opposing view from the fellow with the office next to mine. If you're pressed for time, skip ahead to minute 4:00. If you want to hear, well, things that are quite hard to understand, skip to minute 23:15. It's quite ... judge for yourself.