Smith : A wild and Christian guyby Jeff Smith on Oct. 12, 2007, under Opinion
Sometimes, John McCain is ha-ha funny. Lately, he’s been way-too-weird-to-be-president funny.
If Arizona is ever to become the next Virginia of presidents, we have to start doing a better job of vetting our boys and girls before they go on stage.
Mo Udall, though tall, which is more critical than you know, and Lincolnesque, was by his own admission “too funny to be president.” Well, if there’s anything I’d want to disqualify me from the job, hilarity is tops.
Barry Goldwater preceded Udall as a presidential candidate and got nearer to making the cut, but he too was “too,” in a variety of categories: too plain-spoken, too honest, too scary, dare one say too Jewish?
By affiliation and practice, Goldwater was Episcopalian, but the Goldwater family was historically Jewish and proud of it. To our shame, the people of the United States still harbor pockets where we are not proud of Jewishness.
Our bad luck.
Speaking of which – Episcopalians – to my befuddlement, I can’t say exactly what Arizona’s latest entrant in the White House dash is too much of.
But given the ebb and flow of John McCain’s popularity and the multiple McCains at the root of this off-again, on-again quality to his campaign, I can say now, with conviction, that he is far too much of something to come within a cannon shot of the White House.
I’m beginning to suspect the answer lies in aggregation of an array of quirks and character things – characteristics, character flaws, character virtues. He’s a character all right.
How else can you explain McCain’s, shall we say, amusing remark that he’d like to enlist former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, dead or alive, to write a flat-tax code to replace the present rabbit warren of loopholes and dodges.
“If he’s alive or dead it doesn’t matter. If he’s dead, just prop him up and put some dark glasses on him like, like ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’ ” McCain said of Greenspan.
McCain came to the nation’s attention when he marched off that jet from Vietnam. The rolling stride – he seemed to be getting back his sea legs after all those years in the tiger cages – became familiar, even as he put on needed muscle and then unneeded insulation. Are his arms too short, or has he just got more girth to get them around? Things like this began to bother me.
I stuck with McCain as McCain stuck with his president and his policies on and in Iraq. I didn’t think it was Bush’s war any more than McCain did: It was our war, the United States of America’s war against Saddam Hussein and then against Muslim terrorists who conveniently concentrated in Iraq to inconvenience Iraq’s and our goal to create a democratic centerpiece in the Mideast.
I recall saying and hearing others say that this war against terror would be longer than the national attention span, but of course everyone else has forgotten. Oh, well.
Beyond that, though, McCain struck me as some guy you might run into in a bar or a barbershop. Some guy with a coat three sizes too small. Ever notice that? You can’t look presidential if your suit coat won’t button across your belly. Maybe in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, but then a man could wear a sweater with a suit.
And like the guy in the barbershop, McCain’s positions, and the manner in which he has expressed them, are all over the map. This is fine for a man whose plan is to get his hair cut, but not for a man who plans to run the United States.
It wasn’t until McCain said the country needs a Christian to run it that I put it together and saw what he is too much of to be president.
He’s too moon-howling nuts.
America may need a Christian at the tiller, lest the ship of state veer off the edge of the flat Earth, but we need a nice Jewish boy like Alan Greenspan to handle the cash register, right, Cap’n John?
Any man intelligent enough, common-sensible enough, politically canny enough and morally decent enough to be president of this most mongrel of nations – that’s a good thing – knows better than to apply any religious litmus test to the job.
In the same interview, McCain described the United States as a nation founded on Christianity. No man seeking to be our CEO should be so ignorant of our history.
The Constitution invokes no deity and favors no faith. The First Amendment specifically precludes establishment of a state religion or any laws pertaining to such. All the Constitution says is: Help yourselves to practice religion freely or not at all.
Presidential candidates would be wise to bear this in mind.
In this revealing confessional, McCain says he was raised Episcopalian but recently has been attending a Baptist church and now considers himself a Christian. Code for evangelical. Which in turn is contemporary usage for a religion dominated by recast and corrupted Christian (there ought to be a lower-case “c” in this instance) dogma.
This is what has finally emerged as John McCain’s too-ism. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Jeffyboy is leery of religionists. He may be reached at 520-455-5667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.