I'm still buried by work, but when John McCain dons his psychic's turban, I have no choice other than to put down the grade books and pay attention. It seems that Senator McCain, desperate for any attention these days, decided to look ahead to the year 2013, telling us what we can expect by the end of his first term if he is elected president this November. Most candidates, of course, take an eight-year perspective, so some talking heads wondered aloud if McCain was trying to tell us that he would not seek to break Ronald Reagan's old age record by running for re-election in 2012. But anyone who expects a man this consumed by ambition to be a one-term Johnny is apparently still besotted with the notion that there is something "different" about the presumptive GOP nominee other than the fact that he was born only a year after Babe Ruth retired.
Anyway, McCain has apparently provided the following vision of the world after only four cleansing years of straight talking:
* The Iraq War will be won
* Osama bin Laden will be captured or dead (perhaps of old age?)
* No significant terrorist attacks will occur on U.S. soil
* Health care will be "available to more Americans than at any other time in history" (I guess if he meant "universal", he wouldn't have needed to use nine words)
* "Both parties" will have decided to fix Social Security without a decline in benefits
* Congressional earmarks will be eliminated
* You'll be able to talk to your dog and understand what he's saying to you
* The Tooth Fairy will be forced to find another line of work because teeth will never fall out
How we will get to this Golden Age remains unrevealed at this point. Presumably McCain has some "ideas" and "proposals" that will soon be unveiled, or maybe he'll just summon his straight-talking superpowers and make the whole thing happen overnight while we're sleeping. Maybe he'll do it all with a big loan from Lincoln Savings.
But that's not what I want to talk about. Rather, I am more interested in the media's reaction to what was, to even the most untrained eye, a fairly obvious case of election-year excess. I mean, how exactly will the Great Man persuade Congress simply to cede its institutional perogatives and bend to the new president's will? Has John McCain ever read Federalist 51?
None of this stopped some of the fools on CNN from gushing over McCain's courage in making promises by which he will be judged should he win the 2008 election. One of them marveled at the senator's willingness to stick his neck out in a way that most politicians would not. It was left to Jack Cafferty, ever auditioning for Andy Rooney's curmudgeon job on "60 Minutes", to point out to his starstruck colleagues that "the devil's in the details", a cliche that roughly translates to "McCain didn't tell us anything about how he would actually govern, you blow-dried airheads!"
Just to be clear, Senator McCain has done what politicians have done since the invention of elections. He has made promises that he knows he can't keep in order to win higher office. Like all the others, he figures he can finesse everything else once he's elected. By the time 2012 comes along and most of his pledges remain unfulfilled, he can blame the Democratic Congress or the terrorists or the United Nations or the freemasons.
Seems to me that some callow young Texas governor eight years ago was promising a humble foreign policy and compassionate coservatism. And look how well that turned out...