Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Will Power

George F. Will throws John McCain under the bus.

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.”


Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

This is a continuation of Mr. Will’s rather harsh treatment of Mr. McCain on ABC’s This Week last Sunday, where he basically said the same thing: John McCain’s impulsiveness and temper call into question his fitness to be president.

Mr. Will joins a growing number of conservatives — mostly the non-neocons — who are swearing off the Kool-Aid, and by far one of the most eloquent. And if you’re a Republican candidate and you’ve lost George F. Will, you’ve got a problem.