. . . Monday April 12, 2004

Deconstructing John McCain

Does John McCain have any interest in being John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate? Well, to get the answer the that question, you may have to read between the lines a bit. Let’s deconstruct the comments made by the Arizona Senator during yet another straight talk express visit with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. We begin with McCain’s response to Russert’s first question on the subject. Read slowly. Try to pick up the subtle nuances:

McCain: When my kids were smaller, my wife used to wear a T-shirt that said, “What part of no don’t you understand?” I’d like to start wearing that T-shirt myself. No, no and no.

[Notice the sentence construction here. McCain begins by referring to a shirt worn by his wife decades ago. Then he suggests that he'd like to start wearing that same T-shirt himself. Patently absurd. The three "Nos" therefore make perfect sense. McCain wearing a T-Shirt? No. McCain wearing dated womens' clothing? No. Admitting on national television that your wife used to wear one of those goofy T-shirts. Of course, no. What McCain is doing here is building a clear critique of the President's decision to play dress-up on that aircraft carrier many months ago.]

McCain: I will not leave the Republican Party [who's asking him to leave it? Another diversionary tactic?]. I cherish the ideals and principles of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan [In most remote reaches off your mind, can you even imagine that list including Lincoln, Roosevelt, Reagan and George W. Bush? McCain again leaves the door to his unconscious slightly ajar. What he means here is that he cherishes the ideals of the Republican party up to and through Reagan. The word "cherish" here is a critical clue. No one cherishes Tom DeLay]. I will not be vice president of the United States under any circumstances. [Of course not any circumstances, but what about this specific circumstance?] I feel I can be far more effective in helping shape policy in the future of this country as a United States senator, and I will not, I will not, stand for vice president of the United States. [The repetition of the line "I will not" is both a subtle jab to Bush who, each morning, uses double negatives as warm-up on his way to much more tongue defying grammatical affronts. The double negative also serves as code for the intellectual elite who know what a negative plus a negative equals. And finally, McCain knows full well that no one is suggesting that he stand "for" vice president (we've got Halliburton for that), we are asking him to stand "as" vice president.]

Russert: What if you could stay as a Republican?

McCain: It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. I will not. I will not change.

[Two things are going on here. First, the savvy McCain is looking to pre-empt the flip flop charges that are sure to be lobbed in his direction once he joins the Kerry ticket. Second, the quadruple negative is McCain's obvious attempt to make Russert understand that this is already a done deal. The only thing that could make this exchange more obvious would be if McCain had been sitting on John Kerry's shoulders during the interview.]

Concentration is important!