Campaigns/Elections

Won't You Help Them Sing?

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Here's a pretty good profile of John McCain's speechwriter, co-author of his five books, and Vulcan mind-melder Mark Salter, by The New Republic's Michael Crowley. Lots to chew on, but one part that jumped out in particular is the way that Salter (and, we can assume, McCain) is irritated to no end that Barack Obama in 2008 is sounding a helluva lot like, and receiving a similar reaction to, John McCain in 2000:

How do this work, again?

All the more galling for Salter is his belief that Obama the candidate is lifting from McCain's oeuvre. Obama has recently described his transformation from a selfish young man who thought "life was all about me" to an adult who realizes "that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children?all of our children?a better world. Even if it's difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don't get very far in our lifetime." Salter hears in this an echo of McCain's longtime account of outgrowing his troublemaking and self-centered youth to find a higher purpose in serving others. ("I often regret that we didn't copyright 'serving a cause greater than your self-interest,'" he cracks.)

Even more provocatively, Obama recently cited as one of his favorite novels?you guessed it?For Whom the Bell Tolls. When I relayed this to Salter, he was initially incredulous, then burst into laughter. "Is that right? Well, that's another thing he steals from McCain! That's amazing."

Is it too much to ask our presidential candidates to progress to at least post-war fiction? Bob Barr, will you not stand up for, I dunno, North Dallas Forty? And fer cryin' out loud, when will winning the presidency go back to, you know, winning the presidency, rather than serving as the cherry on top of a stirring redemption tale made straight for the celebrity-inspiration slot on the cover of Parade magazine?

Speaking of decent articles about McCain's world, this recent Washington Post profile of Cindy was pretty good.

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  1. transformation from a selfish young man who thought “life was all about me” to an adult who realizes “that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children?all of our children?a better world.

    Hey that was my bio too! But unlike these posers, I actually had the criminal record.

  2. When Obama returns from five years of torture in a foreign prison camp and dumps his wife for a beer heiress, then he’s going too far.

  3. transformation from a selfish young man who thought “life was all about me” to an adult who realizes “that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children?all of our children?a better world.

    That sounds like the riff used by our sitting President, back in those carefree, innocent days when our biggest worry was the Y2K bug.

    And nothing says, “sacrifice for the children” than sacrificing the children of other people.

  4. And nothing says, “sacrifice for the children” [better] than sacrificing the children of other people.

  5. McCain needs a campaign song.

    Where you been lately?
    There’s a new kid in town.
    Everybody loves him.
    He’s holding her and
    you’re still around.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLyrbDblw-Y
    Cut and paste or click on my name.

    NS

  6. That bastard! I have more potential posthumous value than that clown, and he’s stealing my ultra-low (almost negative) discount rate for future benefits which I may never receive!

  7. You know, when Krusty shamelessly stole George Carlin’s routine, Carlin didn’t complain like this.

  8. “If this is anybody except Steve Allen, you’re stealing my bit!”

  9. “Learning to serve a cause greater than yourself” is a great rap for all our recent bad-boy candidates, including Bill Clinton and George. Because everyone loves the prodigal son, right?

    You have to feel sorry for poor Al Gore, stuck with “I’m the same self-rightous, self-satisfied prig I’ve always been.” Somehow, it doesn’t have quite the same ring.

  10. You have to feel sorry for poor Al Gore, stuck with “I’m the same self-rightous, self-satisfied prig I’ve always been.”

    Excellent observation.

  11. Most of the post-war fiction sucks, however.

  12. Alan — Actually, Gore’s candidacy was among the most egregious in terms of the presidency completing his Personal Journey. It was all about the wake-up call of his son’s car accident, the redeemed Lost Years of pot-smoking and soul-searching in Divinity School, and so on. Alexander Cockburn’s nasty book was pretty convincing on this score.

  13. “I often regret that we didn’t copyright ‘serving a cause greater than your self-interest,'” he cracks.

    Be afraid of someone who is serving a cause greater than his self-interest: It is likely greater than your self-interest too.

    And fer cryin’ out loud, when will winning the presidency go back to, you know, winning the presidency, rather than serving as the cherry on top of a stirring redemption tale made straight for the celebrity-inspiration slot on the cover of Parade magazine?

    It’s been nothing but downhill ever since VH-1 started their occasional Behind the President series.

  14. It’s all been downhill since the ladies got the vote.

  15. Look, Barack Obama is the emptiest sort of empty suit that as far as I can tell has never had an original idea come out of his head. Practically everything he says and does has been lifted from someone else, whether he’s stealing speech lines from Deval Patrick, or trying to imitate JFK and Ronald Reagan in Berlin.

    He even openly admitted as much a couple of months back when he said he’s basically a blank slate that other people are projecting their own wishes onto. He’s the ultimate mystery man/con artist.

  16. And fer cryin’ out loud, when will winning the presidency go back to, you know, winning the presidency, rather than serving as the cherry on top of a stirring redemption tale made straight for the celebrity-inspiration slot on the cover of Parade magazine?

    Great line!

    Apparently a line such as “I’ve pretty much been a responsible, self-made adult since I turned 18” doesn’t resonate with the public.

  17. McCain, you bastard! I read Welch’s book!

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