Roger L. Simon

McCain Derangement Syndrome - It's Here!

What’s amusing in one way and horrifying in another, but all-too-human in the final analysis, is how the moment a politician becomes popular and powerful – Bush, Clinton – a sizable percentage of the population starts to hate him. We’ve seen Clinton reviled. We’ve had years of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Welcome to McCain Derangement Syndrome – it’s happening before he’s even elected!

I heard two examples of it this evening – one from my friend Hugh Hewitt, whose rage against McCain today on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show made the hair curl on my bald head and later, on the Larry Elder Show, I listened in as a woman caller excoriated McCain as no war hero even though she knew the Senator had spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, was tortured, had his bones broken yet stayed with the other troops when offered a chance to leave, etc. Even Elder was appalled at the woman, though Larry is no McCain supporter.

I won’t psychoanalyze this rage for fear of just stirring more up. But I will make a couple of observations. One of the raps against McCain by traditional conservatives is that he opposes waterboarding and Gitmo. On the other hand, he was one of the earliest, strongest and most influential backers of The Surge. I think by any rational comparison the importance of The Surge vs. waterboarding and Gitmo isn’t remotely close. The Surge is responsible for the vastly improved situation in Iraq and for our consequentially improved situation globally. The other two are of marginal importance by comparison. McCain, it would seem to me, has his priorities right (not to mention more experience) on the most important issue of our time – the War on Terror.

One other thing: I have no particular dislike of Romney, other than I find him bland (a very personal reaction, which is not that important.) I followed his career as governor of Massachusetts and thought he did a pretty good job. But, to me, he seemed pretty much of a conventional liberal then, in fact vastly more liberal than I ever regarded John McCain, who I saw and see as more or less of a centrist. I recall Romney running to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights (an issue on which I am to the left of both).

Romney claims to have changed and “seen the light” on many issues. I have no idea whether this is true, but I am amazed by all these conservatives who totally and almost slavishly believe this is the real Romney yet equally assuredly distrust McCain when he repeatedly says he would build a security fence. It reminds me of that old shrink’s thing about the “need to be right,” how it always trips us up. I have seen it happen to me a lot. Anyway, I’m not sure McCain Derangement Syndrome has a cure. People love their anger. It’s a security blanket.