Monday, March 15, 2004

McCain and Kerry: The Phantom Menace

What is up with Senator John McCain's odd, mysterious flirtations with Kerry's presidential posse, from across the Senate Republican cloak room and, quite frankly, the "across party lines reciprocations" from the Kerry camp? It's like a modern day West Side Story, with McCain, the former southwestern POW, a cagey shark from the Gulf of Mexico, and the craggy, preppy John Kerry, who looks like he stepped out of a Gilbert Stuart painting, is a Heinz 57 private corporate jet. And like West Side Story, their choreography is complicated and funky. Finally, it has more than a touch of political phantom menace.

In other words, why is a Republican senator from a conservative southwestern state making oblique overtures towards the opposition presidential candidate in an election year? Why are Bush and Kerry fucking with the President?

Robert Novak, always ahead of the curve, offers us this tasty hunk of yellow cake:

"In this winter of Republican discontent, the last thing the Grand Old Party needed last week was Sen. John McCain leaving the door open for him to be John Kerry's Vice Presidential running mate on the Democratic ticket. That opening was tiny, and McCain quickly had it closed with a bang. Nevertheless, the incident was disturbing to knowledgeable Republicans.

"A Kerry-McCain ticket is out of the question, and nobody knows it better than McCain. Then why did he for several hours last Wednesday permit what the Associated Press described as 'a glimmer of hope' for this unlikely combination? It reflects more than the senator's indisputable propensity for mischief-making. At a time when George W. Bush needs help and support, McCain is opposing him on a broad front of issues from tax cuts to global warming."

On ABC's Good Morning America recently, John McCain said, ''John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years. Obviously, I would entertain it.'' Say --- What?!

Then, last week, as if out of the blue, Ben Smith of the salmon colored media bible The Observer wrote in a story that, "A close adviser to Republican Senator John McCain is informally advising Senator John Kerry on his Presidential bid and may go to work for the Democrat's campaign."

Hmmm. There are higher forces at work here. A phantom menace.

The man in question, the Texan John Weaver, was political director to Mr. McCain's failed 2000 campaign against the President.

So what's going on? One imagines an "impromptu" meeting with the President in the West Wing. Hmmm:

President Bush: May the campaign contributions be with you, my padawan, how are you today?

John McCain: Well, I'm not feeling too welcome with the Republicans, of late. Where's the love?

The President: Really, John, sorry to hear that. What's all this crazy talk I hear about you as Kerry's running mate?

Senator McCain: It's just speculation. I'm trying to put the kibosh on it once and for all, Mr. President.

The President: That's good, John. Patience. Use the Force ... think.

Senator McCain: Sorry, Mr. President.

The President: Here, you dropped this (hands McCain his Republican Party membership card.)

Senator McCain: Thank you, Mr. President.

The President: (fatherly) Next time try not to lose it.

Senator McCain: Thank you, Mr. President

The President: (anxious) This weapon is your life!

Senator McCain: (frustrated) I try, Mr. President.

The President: (dejected) Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the election defeat of me?

Senator McCain: (vehement) Don't say that, Mr. President. You're the closest thing to a leader I have.

The President: (sadly) Then why don't you listen to me?

Senator McCain: (at last ...) I am trying, Mr. President.

And a Preview from our next Corsair episode: McCain meets the dry, stately Kerry in his private campaign bunker, who declares, benignly, to the Arizona Republican, "You don't need Presidential guidance, John. In time, you will learn to trust your feelings. Then, you will be invincible. I have said it many times, you are the most gifted Senator I have ever met."

McCain: Thank you, Mr. Nominee.

Kerry: I see you becoming the greatest of all the Senators, John. Even more powerful Bill Clinton."

to be continued

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