I've covered John McCain in the Senate for 15 years. Like so many reporters, I've liked him. He was smart, funny, irreverant, ecclectic, intellectually honest. He took on big issues -- tobacco regulation, campaign finance, immigration. He foresaw that President Bush's tax cuts would create record deficits and voted against them -- twice.
John McCain was deeply offended, and rightfully so, when then-Gov. Bush's henchmen ran the most vicious smear campaign against him I've ever seen during 30 years of political reporting. It was in South Carolina, in the lead-up to the decisive Republican primary there.
McCain had defeated Bush in the New Hampshire primary, and Bush was desperate to win in South Carolina.
Bush's henchmen lied about McCain for weeks. They left anonymous fliers on car windshields. They made anonymous phone calls. They hinted that McCain and his wife had a black child (they had adopted a baby at Mother Teresa's orphanage). They said Cindy McCain was a drug addict (she'd overcome an addiction to prescription drugs...just like Rush Limbaugh).
They accused McCain of having sold out his country as a POW in Vietnam.
McCain vowed he would never run such a dirty campaign.
He's in danger of going back on his word.
For the last two weeks, his campaign has peddled lies and feigned phony outrage over things that Barack Obama never said -- or came close to saying.
McCain must be desperate -- as desperate as George W. Bush was 8 1/2 years ago in South Carolina.
I believed that McCain's integrity and sense of honor would prevent him from running this kind of campaign.
I'm beyond disappointment.
I feel sorry for John McCain.
Senator, the presidency isn't worth this pact with the devil.