In the late-70s I had a very dear friend who purchased one of the hottest ever designed cars: a Triumph TR8; the most popular automobiles by British Leyland, it was advertised as "the shape of things to come." The downfall of the vehicle, however, was the fact that, beneath its beautiful skin, it was a piece of junk. Its styling and performance could dazzle any bystander . . . for a while. The "while" translated as not lasting especially long, and spending inordinate time in the repair shop. In modern argot, it was "high maintenance."
A full six months ago I posted Democrats Worst Nightmare.
Don't tell me, I know it now, I knew it at the time: a little, okay, a lot of hyperbole. It was a title, a headline intended to pique sufficient curiosity that would get it read.
In "Nightmare," I proposed that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was not only the most logical VP pick to stand alongside John McCain, she was also the best lance into the heart of whoever would end up as the Democratic presidential candidate.
Essentially, I was landing on the proposition from two distinct and unrelated perspectives. Let's take a look at them. But first, let's take a look at the country and at John McCain.
Zeitgeist refers to the general personality of a population. America's is one of turbulence; a thorough disgust of the present state of affairs. We are fed up past the gills with the direction in which the country is headed because we are fed up past the gills with where we have been for at least the past nearly eight years, and likely even longer. Although we're not sure as to the specific definition of "change," we sure don't want what has been past and what is present to be continued as our future. More of the same, as an offering, will be rejected outright. The contest for the Democratic nomination between an African-American and a woman, and the enthusiasm generated, proved that point beyond any question whatsoever!
The Arizona senator's life history, from early childhood through the present is one that is typified by temper tantrums laced with the most prolific profanity-saturated tirades that are directed both obliquely at some indistinct target and most exquisitely at those who (seem to) cross him. In effect, it's a form of bullying, which itself draws entirely from a very real, deep seated sense of emotional insecurity. He needs to launch preemptive attacks lest he - his position, statement, claim, etc. - be shown as erroneous, inapposite, whatever. McCain takes, as he has from childhood, suggestions and the presentation of evidence, that he may not be right as lethal, personal attacks pointed directly at him; "him" in this instance being his ego, his personal worth, his very sense of self esteem. Those who might inveigh against him are internalized as potential threats that must be dispatched by whatever means, but by means that will not also result in the threat or realization of personal peril.
That is John Sidney McCain III.
McCain's apparent choices consisted of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
The conundrum for McCain was finding someone who was sufficiently youthful to offset the age issue, who would be acceptable to the far-Right conservative GOP base, who was not a longtime Washington insider, who would not overshadow him either intellectually or whose stage dynamism put him in the background, and who could seem to fill that Zeitgeist thing.