This Week With John McCain

It seems fitting that John McCain sat down with George Stephanopoulos yesterday on a program called “This Week,” because the name itself carries the suggestion that what you hear McCain say will only be operative for a limited time. Next week may be a different matter entirely, and last week has succumbed to history’s dust bin.

The tone of the interview was set early on with McCain answering the second question in a distinctly political dialect:

Stephanopoulos: Congress has to pass a stimulus plan for the middle class, which extends unemployment benefits, adds infrastructure funding, and sends money to the states to shore up their budgets. Are you for that, as well?

McCain: I am for keeping taxes low. I am for whatever steps we think we need to be taking right now.

Wow! So, by extension, he’s against whatever steps he thinks should not be taken. That’s a courageous stance.

It was also noted by several observers that McCain would did not look at Obama at all during the entire debate. Even when they shook hands, McCain quickly turned away. This behavior was somewhat eerie and obviously purposeful. When Stephanopoulos asked him about it he said:

McCain: I was looking at the moderator a great deal of time. I was writing a lot of the time. I in no way know how that in any way would be disdainful […] I’ve been in many, many debates. And a lot of the times I don’t look at my opponents because I’m focusing on the people and the American people that I’m talking to. That’s what the debate’s all about.

Got that? He was looking at the American people. That’s why he was unable to glance at his opponent, to whom he was presumably engaged in discourse, even once in an hour and a half. Did he have a magic mirror that allowed him to see voters in their living rooms as they watched the debate on their TV machines? Would he also decline to look at Putin and other world leaders with whom he meets in order to keep his gaze on Americans that he is imagining?

Next up, Stephanopoulos asked McCain about Sarah Palin’s assertion that she, like Obama, would approve of cross border incursions into Pakistan to target Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. This is contrary to McCain’s own position, though he denies it:

McCain: She would not – she shares my view that we will do whatever is necessary. The problem is, you don’t announce it.

The problem is Palin did announce it, as did McCain in the same sentence that declared that he would not. McCain further argued that, while Palin said what she said, she shouldn’t be held to it because it was said while someone had a microphone picking up what she said, and besides what she said was the same thing that he was saying and that she did “just fine.” Can we hold him to that?

McCain also defended Palin from criticism she’s received, much of it from conservatives, that she is unprepared for the position that McCain has thrust her into.

McCain: Listen, I’m so excited about the reaction that Sarah Palin has gotten across this country, huge turnouts, enthusiasm, excitement. She knows how to communicate directly with people. They respond in a way that I’ve – that I’ve seldom seen. You know, they can complain all they want to. I’ll rely on the American people.

The American people have resoundingly rejected Palin. She has the lowest favorability ratings of anyone on either ticket. And it isn’t because she is getting bad press. In fact, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post is reporting that many journalists are censoring their comments about Palin to avoid looking like they’re piling on.” He also notes that CBS has more embarrassing responses from the Couric interview that they haven’t aired. So if CBS and others in the press were more honest and candid, the public’s view of Palin would be even worse.

That’s what McCain had to say this week on “This Week.” I can’t wait to hear what he’s going to say next week.