January 9, 2008

Of all the candidates to talk about civility in the political discourse, John McCain is probably the most ridiculous. But he apparently sees which way the winds are blowing, so the Arizona senator is giving it a shot, hoping desperately that reporters play along and ignore his record.

ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Sen. John McCain said Wednesday that if elected president, he would clean up the nation’s political discourse, and called for an end to negative campaign ads.

“I’m going to raise the level of political dialog in America,” McCain, R-Ariz., said at a campaign rally in central Michigan, “and I’m going to treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect.”

As president, McCain said, he’d be able to work well with members of Congress on the Democratic side of the aisle. “We’re going to get a dispute and a debate done, but in a respectful fashion,” McCain said.

This isn’t entirely new. In November, McCain told a group of supporters, “I think people want a respectful debate and a respectful discussion. And if they don’t, then obviously, I’m not the person to be their candidate.” He added, “Legitimate policy differences, those should be debated and discussed. But I don’t think you should take shots at people.”

This is deeply ironic. Campaign coverage generally ignores McCain’s nasty, belligerent side — Newsweek once referred to him as “Senator Hothead” — but the record is overwhelming.

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