Has John McCain turned into a political has-been?

Less than two months after the senior senator from Arizona, John Sidney McCain III, of noble military lineage and great matrimonial wealth, announced informally on The Late Show with David Letterman that he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination for 2008, he can be considered toast… burnt toast. Well, that’s my early prediction.

McCain running a distant second in the Republican race in most polls – after Giuliani – is no reason to discard his candidacy. His absurd pro-war stance is, however; leaving him standing at the post against both Giuliani and at least three or four Democrats.

And a good thing that is! For if there is one thing this nation can ill afford, it’s another dubious Dubya… with comparable lackluster brainpower, similar lack of curiosity or knowledge, and a parallel strong affection for war!

Thanks but no thanks. America has had enough royalty at the White House for this century and it doesn’t need another Bush, which is exactly what the nation would get from an individual for whom straight talk signifies but a slogan written on a campaign bus, a PR way to seduce independent voters and the media. McCain did succeed in 2000 presenting himself as a moderate Republican and sort of a maverick, and did have much of the press ready to pimp for his candidacy, had it not been cut short because of the dirty tricks Bush’s handlers pulled on him. But trying to revive the romance this year, after a series of faux pas (political as well as social), has failed to resuscitate the type of commentary delivered by an enamored press of seven years before.

McCain’s standing against torture, although commendable, is just not an issue in and of itself that can elevate him to a position of presidential contention. Nor his used, reused and forever recycled hero status as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. The udder of such a POW fete has been milked dry with nary drop left, whether he knows it or not.

His loss of stature is not based on his inbred tendency to insult; whether jokes in bad taste – comment on Chelsea Clinton’s looks comes to mind – or racial slurs, “gook” being a term he has constantly used. He certainly does not appear as a sensitive or forgiving individual by even an overreach of anyone’s imagination.

Nor has his popularity diminished because of any new discoveries on the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 80’s, and his relationship with Charles Keating. After all, the Senate ethics committee exonerated (or whitewashed) his and Sen. John Glenn’s participation in the affair, although the other three senators investigated paid their dues. Heroes must remain heroes, one guesses, since there seem to be few to draw from.

Neither should we believe for a minute that his standing has suffered because of his age, which would potentially make him the oldest president ever to be inaugurated at 72; or his health, and bouts with malignant melanoma; or his lack of the all important physical attribute for male politicians in the United States: hair.

And McCain’s poorest-among-poor standing at Annapolis (hegraduated in 1958 895th in a class of 900 – fifth from the bottom) would not faze voting Americans; after all they will tell you, he had to be smart enough to be admitted to the Naval Academy, notwithstanding the fact that his father and grandfather, admirals both, were alumni… and that acceptance in most of “these cases” is simply a formality.

But where McCain lost credibility, as legislator and presidential contender, occurred during those town hall meetings a few weeks back when he couldn’t even answer the simplest of questions about pending or past legislation on Social Security, Medicare, etc., deferring the answers to his staff at the end of the meetings. If anything, that display of ignorance spoke volumes as to his competency, although little commentary was made on this topic in the mainstream press, other than in those locales where the meetings took place.

His two exposures to ridicule this month have really exacted a toll; and if his candidacy was suffering an acute illness before, it’s now ready to enter the ICU wing of the Public Opinion Hospital. Exposing his lack of gray matter with his statements certifying “that a great level of public safety exists in Baghdad,” seen by millions in CBS’ TV magazine “Sixty Minutes” and cartooned to death in the printed and online press, tops in idiocy the myriad dumb things he has done throughout his political career; and his deranged follow-up last week at Virginia Military Institute on bombing Iran, something which he did in a sardonic way, couldn’t have helped much. His “let’s nuke them” choir was no doubt happy to hear that, but that’s not what moderate America wants to hear.

Perhaps Americans should be thankful that a “unity ticket” of Kerry-McCain did not come about in 2004 – offer of the vice-presidential spot was purportedly made by Kerry but turned down by McCain – or the entire nation might have been tagged by the world as a warmongering monster. At least now both the nation and the world can selectively blame the entire mess in the Middle East on George W. Bush and his gang of neocons.

I will not examine those things many question in him such as his lack of honesty and integrity, or his blatant hypocrisy. My contention is simply that he is totally incompetent to lead this nation, and that he is first and foremost a man of war, not peace – a carbon copy of the man now occupying the White House… brains and heart. America certainly doesn’t need a Bush-replica continuing to endanger an already fragile world order.

It won’t be long now before McCain’s presidential ambitions are laid to rest marked by an appropriate R.I.W. (Rest In War) instead of an R.I.P. (Rest In Peace).