Monday, February 18, 2008

True story: yesterday's Nicholas Kristof column makes an argument so bizarre that I had to read it twice just to be sure he wasn't joking.

Even for those of us who shudder at many of John McCain’s positions, there is something refreshing about a man who wins so many votes despite a major political shortcoming: he is abysmal at pandering.
Probably because he's a maverick!
For years, Mr. McCain denounced ethanol subsidies, which exist mostly because every ambitious politician in America wants to win the Iowa caucuses someday. This year he claimed that he liked ethanol after all, but he was so manifestly insincere and incompetent in this pandering that the episode was less contemptible than amusing.
So pandering in general is bad, but pandering when McCain does it is good, because he is terrible at it, so everyone knows he's lying.
His most famous pander came in 2000, when, after earlier denouncing the Confederate flag as a "symbol of racism," he embraced it as "a symbol of heritage." To his credit, Mr. McCain later acknowledged, "I feared that if I answered honestly I could not win the South Carolina primary, so I chose to compromise my principles."
First off, I think that's a misuse of the phrase "to his credit." Second off, seriously: either I'm missing a joke here, or Kristof has lost his damn mind.

He must be a maverick!

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