Back in college, I studied philosophy. And I didn’t even focus particularly on political philosophy. So when I read things like this from The Washington Post, my concerns naturally turn toward the philosophical:
John McCain is a serious man who promised to wage a serious campaign. Win or lose, will he be able to look back on this one with pride? Right now, it’s hard to see how.
The implication here is that a person can possess the attribute of “serious” even if his actions don’t manifest the attribute in question. As you know, I won’t comment on McCain’s character. But to make a point of pure logic, a serious person would be one who behaves seriously during his serious undertakings. Perhaps McCain is a serious person and running for president is serious business and McCain is waging a serious campaign. Or perhaps McCain is a serious person running an unserious campaign, but running for president isn’t that big a deal. You could imagine saying someone was a serious person who happened to do something unserious when he watched a DVRed episode of Gossip Girl last night. But it’s can’t be that running for president is a serious undertaking, and John McCain is doing so in an unserious way, and John McCain is a serious person. People who do important things in unserious ways aren’t serious people.