It’s apparent if you follow national politics a decent bit and have a bit of an analytical memory or filter, but of course a lot of people don’t. Still, this interview with Time‘s James Carney and Michael Scherer underscores just how dramatic of a shift John McCain‘s campaign has undergone, with respect to tone and style.
Beginning in July, the campaign decided to clamp down on McCain; open-ended question time was reduced to almost nothing, and the famously unscripted statesman began adhering to talking points, albeit through an obviously clenched jaw. Queried about this shift in strategy, McCain played the huh? card a few times, but has now gotten pissy and abrasive. To wit, an excerpt from the interview:
Question: There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define “honor” for us?
Answer: Read it in my books.
Q: I’ve read your books.
A: No, I’m not going to define it.
Q: But honor in politics?
A: I defined it in five books. Read my books.
Q: [Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
A: I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.
Q: But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of —
A: I think we’re running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.
Q: Do you miss the old way of doing it?
A: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
One needn’t editorialize to see that “The Happy Warrior” is dead — perhaps bludgeoned to death by Republican strategists. McCain’s trademark halting half-wave (as pictured above, the result of being unable to raise his arms above his head from having them broken so many times while in captivity during the Vietnam War) now might as well just read as: “Stop — don’t ask me anything.” For the full read, click here.