Reason #1,339,862 that McCain Shouldn't Be President

It's no secret that McCain was pissed—PISSED!—that he lost the nomination in 2000 to a doofussy, undeserving whippersnapper named Dubya. It's also no secret that he lost in no small part because the doofussy, undeserving whippersnapper had in his employ a scheming and soulless operative named Karl Rove, who orchestrated lowdown, dirty whisper campaigns and "push polls" against McCain about his wife being a junky and his adopted Bangladeshi daughter being his illegitimate black child. And now it's no secret that the lesson McCain took away from that unscrupulous trouncing is that it doesn’t pay to have integrity at the top of the GOP anymore, so he's spent the intervening six years selling away every last scrap of his honor, piece by bloody piece.

Now that he's gearing back up for another run at the White House, McCain has decided to build himself a truly heinous campaign team, perfectly befitting the monstrous, stumbling zombie corpse of a once-credible and formerly honorable man that he has become. He started with hiring Terry Nelson, the man responsible for the infamous bimbo ad attacking Harold Ford, Jr. and who was wrapped up in Tom DeLay's criminal shenanigans, as his national campaign manager. And now he has hired Jill Hazelbaker as his communications director. Hazelbaker was exposed as a sockpuppeteer and a liar while working as Republican Tom Kean, Jr's. press secretary, using fake identities not only to defend the candidate for whom she worked but her own proficiency as his employee—and then repeatedly lying about doing it, even when she'd been totally busted.

It's understandable, in some sad and pitiable way, why McCain feels compelled to pull together the meanest, morally-challenged campaign team, after the hideous Rove Machine crushed him in 2000 and particularly since its specter haunts him yet; Jebby or Romney or Giuliani could certainly hire that gun and point it at McCain. Again. But the company a man keeps is important when considering whether he's fit for the presidency—a lesson we all should have learned by now. Bush surrounded himself with cretins, cronies, and yes-men, and look at how that turned out. No doubt McCain considers himself beyond the pitfalls to which Bush has succumbed, because McCain is inarguably more knowledgeable and thusly less dependent on aides and advisors than the ill-prepared, excruciatingly unqualified, and chronically incurious dopesack that beat him. But what of the men and women with whom he surrounds himself just to get there…?

Ambition can be a good, an admirable, thing—and an almost-unhealthy surfeit of it is probably a prerequisite for any presidential candidate. But it must be tempered with an equally obvious supply of zeal for service. Even those who dislike Hillary Clinton would have a difficult time making the case against the existence of her clear enthusiasm for service, for finding solutions, for being a part of government, in equal measure to her ambition to govern. The same, I would once have said, was true for McCain—but no longer. His ambition has eclipsed his willingness to serve; the presidency has become a prize he feels he has earned. That he is keen to hire people who are demonstrably willing to do Whatever It Takes to Win is further evidence that winning is the last thing he deserves.

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