I’d like to address this “McCain has changed” bit for a second — McCain himself has had to address it. It’s pure baloney, as he says. He’s the same old coot he always was: global warming, campaign finance, anti-Gitmo, blah, blah, blah. He’s still the cranky cannon he has always been.
It’s just that, of yore, he was standing in the way of George W. Bush, Jerry Falwell, and the Neanderthals (in the McCainiac view). And that made him very cool. Now, he is standing in the way of The One — and that makes him very uncool, indeed.
So the line has to be, “McCain has changed” — when only his opponents have changed.
They say, “Austin is Texas for people who don’t like Texas.” In the same way, McCain was a Republican for people who don’t like Republicans. Remember when he was talked about as Kerry’s running mate? There was a reason. But now that he’s the GOP nominee: He has to wear a black hat.
The same would have happened in 2000, by the way, if McCain had beaten GWB. In the primaries, McCain was very, very cool — a thorn in the side of the stupid Texas Jesus freak (as many saw it). But if he had been chosen to square off against Al Gore — well, Black Hat City (as Bush 41 might say).
McCain’s problem is, he wants to win. If he could merely be content to lose graciously to Obama — that would be praiseworthy. But he is actually trying to win the election, whatever mistakes he is making. And that is alarming and disappointing to some people.
No, McCain hasn’t changed — but circumstances have. “What a difference a day made,” went the old song. (In some versions, “makes.”) What a difference a political year can make, too.