Here's how Stephen Moore prefaced his slightly bizarre interview with McCain for yesterday's Wall Street Journal: "If you thought that the senior senator from Arizona would ride off into the political sunset last November, inconsolable after losing his bid for the presidency, think again. He’s over it." Got that?
Okay. So now a sampling of McCain comments before Moore even brings up the campaign:
Will Mr. Obama ever move to the center as President Clinton did? “He will try to, but he’s got an overwhelmingly liberal Congress and his political instincts are to move to the left. It’s not an accident that he has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate,” he says, reciting a line from his campaign. ...
“Could I mention, Steve, that I kept hearing during the campaign the stuff about McCain being weak on economics. They obsessed about this in the media. They never said Obama is weak on economics. ...
He seems perplexed that his pals in the media turned on him in 2008 after years of worshipful press treatment. “In 2000 [when he ran against George W. Bush] I used to go chat with reporters on the back of the bus, and we would have these long, pleasant conversations . . . . I was the underdog clawing my way up. But then in 2008, I noticed that it would be kind of a gotcha session with the press—a totally more hostile attitude.”
Hmmm. Well, maybe I'm misreading McCain's mood. Maybe he'll sound much more philosophical when Moore broaches the campaign directly:
Mr. McCain is initially reluctant to talk about the campaign, but he provides me with snippets of what went right and wrong. ... He certainly was dealt a lousy hand. But I challenge him on whether he might have played that hand better. During the first days of the financial crisis, Mr. McCain looked indecisive and worse, a creature of Washington insider politics. Why did he suspend his campaign, and why did he vote for the $700 billion bank bailout plan, which was wildly unpopular with voters?
“You have no idea the pressure I was under,” he says. “I remember being on the phone with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the Treasury secretary and [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke. They assure me the world financial system is going to collapse if I don’t vote for the bill. So I do the impetuous and rash thing by saying, look, I have got to go back to Washington and see how I can help. And by the way, so did Obama—but it was McCain that was the impetuous one. Obama came back to Washington.” Mr. McCain grumbles, “He was at the White House with me. But he wasn’t impetuous.” This is the only time in our interview he shows any bitterness about the campaign.
Wow. Now this is just ludicrous. I remember McCain being the only candidate who abruptly suspended his campaign and pulled out of an imminent debate so he could return to Washington and--well, do what is not exactly clear. But it was apparently pretty important.
Not only is McCain not over the campaign, he seems downright delusional about it.