What Does John McCain Know?

A while back, someone (I can’t rememer who off hand) called John McCain the “first pundit to run for President.” As the race goes on, that’s become an increasingly accurate way to look at the way McCain operates.

John McCain spends more time on talk shows than just about anything else. There’s a reason, after all, that he just set the record for appearances on Face the Nation. And that’s been a calculated move to bolster his national image. But there’s a certain style that goes well for commenting on TV a lot, namely bold, quick, exaggerating one liners, that aren’t so good for someone who actually holds office and has to craft policy. You tend to want someone who can be a bit more sober for that.

Take his pronouncement yesterday that the chairman of the SEC should be fired. It’s vintage pundit, vapid, rhetoric. It’s “bold,” it’s “decisive,” and it also has the added benefit of doing next to nothing to fix anything. The problem? Presidents can’t fire members of independent regulatory commissions, even though they do appoint them. That’s a precedent that’s existed at least since the FDR administration, and something that you’d expect a candidate for President who’s also been a member of Congress for 26 years to know by now, or at least to check quickly before he ran out to lodly proclaim it. But that’s not how cable pundits John McCain does business.