A couple weeks ago Joe Klein wrote a column in Time, which provided an overview of the coming campaign wrapped around the question of what kind of campaign John McCain will run — whether he will he run a Bush-Drudge-style knock and sleaze campaign in which opponents are painted as crypto-terrorists and Hollywood-loving-pansies or embrace a “substantive debate.”
Though not without doubts said he believes McCain will run an honorable campaign. “I suspect that he will. It’s McCain’s way. He sees the tawdry ceremonies of politics — the spin and hucksterism — as unworthy.” If he doesn’t “McCain will have to live with the knowledge that in the most important business of his life, he chose expediency over honor. That’s probably not the way he wants to be remembered.”
Well, the last two weeks haven’t been kind to that confidence. As we reported yesterday, McCain is now making clear that he plans to run his campaign on the basis of portraying Barack Obama as a dangerous outsider in league with foreign terrorists. The first topic of choice is the bogus ‘Obama endorsed by Hamas’ story that McCain has embraced with a vengeance.
So this is basically a question to Joe, who has actually been more critical of McCain on Iraq than many realize. How do you think McCain’s doing? Is this the kind of campaign you expected him to run? And when you see him pushing the line that Obama is the candidate of the Muslim terrorists and anti-American marxists, how confident do you feel that you actually know the guy?
Late Update: Klein responds here at Swampland. I will follow up in a subsequent post.