Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Looking For The Exceptional
It would have been interesting to see one of the also-rans from 2000 running in this election - John McCain instead of George W. - as parts of the campaign would have been very different, particularly given McCain's pointed criticism of Bush campaign's grotesque misrepresentation of his own Vietnam record back during the 1999 primary season. I don't think that type of slander, or the "Swift Boats" nonsense, would have gained traction in a battle between the two principled Vietnam War veterans. (And both are principled, particularly by "Washington standards", even if you don't agree with their principles.)
Also, whatever you make of their lives in politics and their questionable conduct during this campaign, both McCain and Kerry did extraordinary things when they were younger. Kerry opted to serve in Vietnam, and came back to forcefully oppose that war. McCain chose to decline an early release from the "Hanoi Hilton", suffering worsened treatment during the remainder of his incarceration, out of solidarity for his fellow POW's. I can't think of anything similarly extraordinary in the privileged background of either Al Gore or GW Bush - nor do I have any confidence that anything in either man's character would have ever led them to be similarly extraordinary.
Given McCain's ability to shoot from his hip, and to shoot straight, and the fact that his episodic candor has earned him significant bipartisan respect (including by many who question many of his political stances), a Kerry-McCain match-up could have been very interesting. It may well have been, at least in comparison to the now-traditional mud wrestling contest, relativley honest and clean.
I think McCain would have beaten Gore in 2000, but apparently he was too much of a maverick - too much of "his own man" - for his party. I think that there's a good chance that McCain would beat Kerry in 2004, were he the candidate.