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Steven Leser: Which John McCain will we see at tomorrow’s debate?

Column by Steven Leser
Reprinted from

Who is the real John McCain? Does HE even know who he is anymore? In just the last six weeks, we have seen six different John McCains. We saw the John McCain at the Republican convention who claimed he was the guy who was for real change. He then dropped that. We saw the disdainful John McCain at the first debate that refused to look at Obama and was rude.

Then we saw the vicious John McCain who, before the second debate, was attacking Obama 24/7 with personal attacks. At the second debate, he reversed course on the personal attacks and tried to seem congenial but ended up creeping most people out. After the second debate, he started attacking Obama again and then a few days ago tried to reverse course and admonished his own supporters at his campaign stops if they called Obama an Arab or a Muslim.

Even if another campaign hadn’t started calling him erratic, the American people would have picked up on this at least three John McCain’s ago.

Who is the real John McCain?

By the way, McCain didn’t start having these issues with claiming to be different things with this latest campaign. Throughout his political career McCain has at times been these odd different things. The first time he did anything noteworthy, he was shepherding Charles Keating’s savings and loan through congressional regulations.

When he got his name rubbed in the dirt by that mess, McCain decided he would claim to be for cleaning up Washington, so he approached Democrat Russ Feingold to craft campaign-finance reform regulations. He didnt do that to be altruistic. He wanted to SEEM that way, but he was just trying to save his political future. Then, you have the runup to the 2000 election. He attacked the religious right and its role in politics and support of George W. Bush. Then, in the 2008 campaign, he picked the darling of the religious right to be his running mate and prostrated himself before Jerry Falwell and Liberty University.

Before the 2000 election, he often voted with Democrats and wore the Maverick label on his sleeve. After 2000, he became Bush’s poodle. He voted with Bush 95 percent of the time and helped wreck our economy and wage an unecessary war in Iraq. He joined Bush with trying to craft an immigration amnesty bill. Then we have the 2008 election campaign and in the nomination process, he professed to Republicans that he was a true Conservative and supported the Conservative cause and went back on immigration amnesty.

After winning the nomination, McCain tried to become the Maverick again and started with the shifting I described in the above first paragraph. Trying to keep up with all of McCain’s gyrations is enough to make the hardiest sailor seasick. Now we hear from the McCain campaign that John McCain is unveiling the new John McCain for the final 21 days of the campaign. Who is he going to claim to be now, the Dalai Lama? What is he going to promise now, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage?

I’ve got some bad news for Republicans. I don’t know if you guys have been paying attention, but nothing you have done in the last few weeks has had any effect on the trajectory of the campaign and that is because with all of your and John McCain’s shifting faces, no one believes nor hardly pays attention to anything that you or your candidates say anymore. Even worse for you, the rabid on and off again attacks on Obama have turned off any independant or undecided voter to McCain’s candidacy. At the same time, Barack Obama has been steady, calm and focused on the economy, health care and the other things about which the American people are concerned.

In this election, with so much at stake, the people don’t want to vote for someone who is constantly trying to be someone different and still, 21 days before Election Day, has no concrete reason for running for president. I’m sure McCain has some sort of surprise or new gimmick to try to foist on the American people for the debate. That is to what John McCain is reduced, his latest new schemes, gimmicks and new personality three weeks before election day to try to fool the American people into voting for him. I don’t think it has the remotest chance of working.


Steven Leser writes for, an Internet-only media site that has grown to become one of the highest traffic news sites in America, reaching more traffic, according to, than all but the 30 largest daily newspapers in the U.S. Mr. Leser is one of the 500-plus liberal pundits who, each month, are published in what has become one of the top five Liberal/progressive media sites in the U.S.