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February 10, 2007

John McCain: Free At Last?

Mccainconscience2

Mccainconscience1

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If you consider Vanity Fair’s elaborate two-page photo layout of John McCain in light of the picture Todd S. Purdum paints of the candidate in this extended profile, you have to wonder what happened to McCain that allows him to run for President and still live with himself.

In the beginning of the piece, example follows example of how McCain hates spinning, pandering and compromising what he really thinks.  In the 2000 campaign, we find out that the Senator was so disturbed about engaging in such acts, he would telegraph when he didn’t believe in what he was saying by first laboriously unfolding a piece of paper, than reading off the bogus statement from memory, in a disaffected tone.  As McCain tells Purdum:

“I wanted them to think me still an honest man, who simply had to cut a corner a little here and there so that I could go on to be an honest president.”

But then, we’re told the 2008 McCain is a better candidate because he’s so much better at suppressing his intolerance for his own hypocrisy.  As McCain reflects back on his 2000 behavior, he says:

“Acknowledging my dishonesty with a wink didn’t make it less a lie. It compounded the offense by revealing how willful it had been. You either have the guts to tell the truth or you don’t. You don’t get any dispensation for lying in a way that suggests your dishonesty.”

So, is McCain (as reflected in the title of the article) still the prisoner of his conscience for selling out in a thousand different ways?  Or has he gotten over it?

One thing that is notable about this layout, shot on McCain’s Arizona property, it is how absolutely and elaborately posed it is.  The expression might be a little cynical, but I don’t see a man looking all that conflicted.  Instead, it’s a wonderful portrait of the new McCain — a man so hungry for I’m not sure what exactly (power? legitimacy? validation?), the political fashion world can have their way with him.

Going back to the second quote above, maybe McCain’s breakthrough is having found the guts not to tell the truth.  Otherwise, if his personal integrity meant that much to him, the man might have his back to us, actually fishing.

(image: Jonas Karlsson.  Vanity Fair. January 2007)

  • lima

    Only the head is his, you can feel the suit behind the cardboard. Carnival fun.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/flyingshark/ flyingshark

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think it’s a terrible portrait. He looks slight, his right hand, especially his fingers, are in shadow, and are reminiscent of many of the pictures of Bob Dole being discreet with his own war injury.
    The face is square on, but the look is that George W. Bush vision thing—and does he really go fishing, is it in the picture?, he’s left his rod on the ground so it’s unclear– in that hat? Do the fish or his dog really need to know how tough he is?
    To me, it’s a pose on so many character levels that it doesn’t work on any. The dog’s the only one looking at us, and he’s wondering why we’re looking at him.

  • neal

    Looks more like a jockey in search of a mount. He’s trying to look manly and vigorous, this ends up looking shrunken or physically diminished.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    CU-SeeMe ?
    Sen. McCain Proposes Surveillance of Illegal Images (Including Cartoons)
    the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act of 2007
    http://www.politechbot.com/2007/02/09/sen-mccain-proposes/

  • ummabdulla

    I’m still having a hard time believing this photo is serious. I thought it was a joke somebody had put together with Photoshop.
    I don’t even know where to start with it… the ballcap that’s like some Naval commander, the expression on his face, the vest with that thing that reminds me of a sheriff’s badge, the items of clothing that don’t go together, the stiff pose, the boots, the fact that he looks like he’s too big for the scene (the mountains behind him look low, and the dog to the side looks small). It’s very strange.

  • margaret

    The picture is dishonest because McCain doesn’t look that good in everyday Washington Congressional mode.
    Frankly, I’m tired of pictures of candidates dressed up, a la Marie Antoinette in her shepardess outfit, pretending to be one of the people.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    Just where he should be – gone fishin’.
    Not running for President.
    Go get your values back already John, and give up this idiotic pursuit of an office you don’t need and that we don’t need you in.

  • Mad_nVT

    McCain- once famous for his “Straight talk Express”.
    Soon to be famous as the man who let grasping-for-power visibly corrode his principles. “Prisoner of Conscience” ??? No more. Corruption stinks.
    The photo is a fraud, the outfit is a fraud, and now the man himself is a fraud.
    Unfortunately, there is about a 50% chance that he will be next President.

  • Johanna

    This picture is useful for McCain with the constituency that he is most worried about in the primary. Here he is in beat up clothes going fishin’ , maybe huntin’ too (little dog might help!). Baseball (or nascar type?) hat. The constituency: Southern rednecks.

  • http://molly.douthett.net lowly grunt

    Does anyone else think of Elmer Fudd? No? Just me? Okay…..
    My other first thought upon seeing this is that someone took a picture from one of those Country Living magazines and photoshopped McCain’s head onto the body. The image just looks to “fixed” to be real. The posture is stiff, the expression is stiffer, even the dog looks stuffed.
    Phony, phony, phony.
    And all the MSM can scream about is Edwards’ hair. Breck my butt.

  • truthseeker

    At first glance I thought this was Bush posing again. It’s that ridiculous. He’s got a bird (hunting) dog, he’s dropped his fishing rod in the mud (I’d sure hate to have to clean that one), he’s got an air force cap (lest we forget his heroism), if that’s a fishing vest, a) where are all the flies, b) what is that flap/patch on the shoulder and, c) it’s too small for him. But, hey, the shirt and pants match nicely and there are two evenly matched smudges of dirt on the knees. Nice touch. That poor dog standing in the mud looks as puzzled as the rest of us.
    How do we judge the veritas of a man who dropped bombs on civilians from 5000 feet, got caught by the ‘enemy’ and (by all accounts) severely punished, then came home praised as a hero? Did he ever face the horror of what he did? Did his time as a POW teach him duplicitousness? Did he learn anything from his experiences or did he just stuff it? Or has his raging ambition taken hold of his psyche such that he cannot but squirm to fit himself into what others want?
    Perhaps the article should have been titled, “The McConscience of a Man.”

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Or better yet John McCain: The Manchurian Candidate.

  • http://nprcheck.blogspot.com Mytwords

    Come on people…McCain looks pretty good to me. I just can’t figure out who that guy in the jeans standing over him is?

  • MonsieurGonzo

    October 21, 2004; The Washington Post :
    Kerry Hunting Trip Sets Sights on Swing Voters
    John Kerry brought his campaign for president to a duck blind here in far eastern Ohio Thursday morning, and while he did manage to clip one goose, he was really aiming for undecided voters in this battleground state…
    …adviser Mike McCurry was quite direct this week in saying that the two-hour predawn hunting trip was another attempt to get voters to know Kerry, who has had some issues with his so-called likeability factor. Kerry also has been talking about his Catholic faith more, and on Sunday he will give a speech on values.
    => YouTube : Happiness is a Warm Gun

  • MadameGonzo

    => YouTube : HELTER SKELTER
    When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
    Where I stop and I turn, and I go for a ride
    Till I get to the bottom and I see you again!!
    Yeah yeah yeah… hey
    Do you, don’t you want me to love you?
    I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you
    Tell me tell me, tell me ~ come on tell me the answer:
    Well you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer!
    Now helter skelter ~ helter skelter
    Helter skelter… yeah
    Oooh!
    Will you, won’t you want me to make you?
    I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you
    Tell me tell me, tell me the answer:
    You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer!
    Look out! helter skelter… helter skelter
    Helter skelter… oooh!

    (Look out, ‘cuz here she comes ;-)

  • Bob

    “This is my best side . . . you can’t photograph me from the other side because my deformities from cancer surgery might suggest my physical problems, and I have enough problems already being psycho . . .”

  • mugatea

    That’s a fly-fishing vest yet the rod he has is a spinning rod. One of those objects is a prop. I wouldn’t use a spinning rod in such a shallow stream. There is quite a bit of light being cast on his face that did not come from the natural sunlight. Altho it could be reflecting off the water in front of him – but it’s so white for that time of day.
    “I think I’d just commit suicide.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quote by Radio Iowa, on what he would do if Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate. – 10.17.06
    Not that I care, but this man uses god’s name in vain any time he gets angry.
    People won’t vote for that.

  • Ebie

    This a Dukakis Moment photo. Look at the CREASES in his just-taken-out-of-the-package “work” shirt. Ill-fitting clothes and a cap that is so big it makes his ears stick out from underneath it. It can only be read as “city slicker pretending to be a man of the people”.

  • Tuffy

    I find it interesting how it’s always possible to spot a Vanity Fair photo spread from 20 yards away.

  • Johanna

    Ebie, brilliant observation to have noticed the crease in the arm. It was right under our noses. This is a Dukakis event — candidate wears a costume and is diminished by it.

  • Doctor Jay

    I find I’m not much in the mood for McCain bashing, though I understand it. But he’s past his expiration date, well past.

  • Everyman

    Mmmmkay. No one noticed that extremely prominent bulge a la Rolling Stones?
    No one?
    I feel so dirty. A pornographic Elmer Fudd.

  • Darryl

    I consider McCain to be a tragic figure.
    The Republican party just changed on him, and his style of Republican went away. Now what does he do? Now how many turds must he swallow in trying to appease the Falwells and the rest of the right that hold sway in this new era of church and state.
    The man didn’t know where to go and so he wound up losing his way.

  • Ken

    Regardless of how you feel politicaly about this fine American the least you owe him is restpect for the pain he endured for your freedom to say what you want. True Mr. Mccain doesnt look like a politition, is that such a bad thing. Abe Lincoln looked like hell but did that portray the type of president he was. Mabey if you focused less on the looks of people and more on the “content of their charicter” this world would be a better place. As a veteran myself I understand the fear and resolve Mr. Mccain endured hopefully I will never Know the pain he endured.

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