Dear Stumped: ( A website by that name)
What’s the most important thing that people don’t know about John McCain?
The answer is John McCain’s penchant for gambling, although after his pick Friday of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, people will gain more of an appreciation for this McCain character trait.
McCain loves to play craps, and his choice of running mate is the ultimate rolling of the dice. I have no idea what the dynamics of the decision were, but you can imagine all those discipline-imposing advisers imported from past Bush campaigns grating on McCain’s nerves. Presumably they pushed safe VP picks, just as they have been trying to get McCain to stick to a message-of-the-day programming.
But McCain is too reckless, as a gambler, to run a cautious campaign. And because party pollsters may have seen the handwriting on the wall — a state-by-state analysis is a lot more ominous for GOP than those seemingly close national polls — those around him may be willing to humor McCain’s gambling streak.
Watching Sarah Palin take to the podium in Dayton for her national unveiling was one of those breathtaking moments. Is he really doing this?! It was like being at a craps table in Vegas at 2 a.m., standing next to someone tossing out black ($100) chips on “yo-eleven” — the ultimate all-or-nothing bet that eleven will be the next number rolled.
I suspect that even when gambling, McCain would have little patience for grinding out a whole night sticking only to safer “pass” bets or sixes and eights. The senator’s actual approach to craps would make for a fascinating profile, if only he were willing to take a weekend off from the campaign trail to hang out with me at the Bellagio. (On The Washington Post’s dime, of course.) Alas, Time has reported that McCain’s aides, fearing a PR disaster, no longer allow him to gamble in a casino. (Time also noted that Obama is more of a poker player.)
A lot of the more aggressive gambling you see in a casino takes place with house money — money recently won — and no doubt there is an element of this in McCain’s bravado. If this is 2 a.m. in the casino and McCain has an imposing row of chips in front of him, he was nearly broke “hours” ago, when he’d fallen well behind other GOP contenders.
There will be plenty of time to assess Palin’s candidacy on the (slim) merits, but on Day 1, watching this likable woman introduce herself to the nation, I have a grudging respect for the magnitude of McCain’s gamble.
Standing there next to the guy betting the “yo-eleven,” you know it’s not supposed to work. Except, hey, he has that mischievous grin, and, well, do you ever really know?
What is it with all this talk about the Senate being unable to get anything done unless there is a “filibuster-proof” majority? Why doesn’t Harry Reid call the Republicans’ bluff and let them actually filibuster, forcing them to talk until they can’t talk anymore, then finally bring the delayed legislation up for a vote?
P. Sean Bramble
(BTW Obama is quite a good poker player)