Guys with simple first names may be the best advocates for John McCain. I’m reminded about this comment from this summer from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell:
“With people who have a lot of gifts, it’s hard for people to identify with them,” the governor said. “Barack Obama is handsome. He’s incredibly bright. He’s incredibly well spoken, and he’s incredibly successful — not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with.”
. . .
“He is a little like Adlai Stevenson,” Rendell mused. “You ask him a question, and he gives you a six-minute answer. And the six-minute answer is smart as all get out. It’s intellectual. It’s well framed. It takes care of all the contingencies. But it’s a lousy soundbite.”
Rendell’s Adlai Stevenson is a devastatingly accurate take. Stevenson was a man who sent intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals swooning. He was a candidate who disdained the average guy. (Told by a supporter he would get every “thinking man’s” vote, Stevenson famously replied, “Thank you, but I need a majority.”) And voters ultimately concluded that Stevenson was precisely the wrong sort (despite or because of his intellectualism) to stand up to the Soviets in the Cold War.
Sure, it is a different era, with different circumstances. But if given his druthers, John McCain would be hard pressed to come up with a better election analogy than Stevenson vs. Ike (the latter another war hero, coincidentally). Unless, of course, it’s every conservative’s favorite comeback election (1948).