This Is Where The Party Ends

A few days ago, Doc suggested that John McCain had a variety of winning strategies; all involved putting his own admirable qualities forward. He had devoted his life to national service; he had spent five long years as a prisoner of war, and had been maimed in the process; he had a political born-again experience after he was caught shilling for a financier in the Keating Five scandal; he had charted his own course relative to the Republican establishment and (especially) its unscrupulous tacticians. Had McCain leaned into his strengths, calmly and confidently, he’d have had a strong appeal to independent voters, and the Republican base (however dissatisfied) would have had no viable alternative to Obama. If a few hard-line right-wingers stayed home from the polls, McCain would still have stood to pick up far more independent votes. As Doc says, that’s the high road: McCain equals experience, service, track record, non-partisan, honor, respect, a plain dealer, a straight talker. That’s the McCain that the media loved and protected, that was a McCain who ran a high-road campaign against George W Bush (and who could have parlayed that opposition into a winning campaign to remedy what his predecessor screwed up), and that was a McCain who had mustered a reputation for integrity and statesmanship.
 
Instead — for whatever reason, and I’m no campaign wonk so I won’t pretend to see into the planning — McCain began last year to pander to the same right wing of the Republican Party that had slandered and attacked him four years ago, and that questioned his credentials well after his nomination. He ran away from his strongest points by identifying himself strongly with the failed Bush presidency, by selecting a manifestly unqualified candidate for vice president (how can he look Kay Bailey Hutchison in the eye after nominating Palin?), and by staffing his campaign with lobbyists and practitioners of Rovian ethics. Rather than burnishing his own status by treating Obama with respect and honor (“for a young fella,” “for a misguided liberal,” “for someone without military service,” “for someone who wasn’t already wired into foreign policy networks”), he sullied and eventually dismantled his integrity with deceitful attack ads and by exacerbating the latent racism that scars this country’s recuperation from the evils of its past.
 
As David points out, even McCain’s efforts to rein in the rabid ignorance and xenophobia he inflamed smack of the bigotry he’s ostensibly trying to check. McCain ought to listen to more They Might Be Giants:

Can’t shake the devil’s hand
and say you’re only kidding

I guess November 4 is where the party ends.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It is actually quite disheartening to see how someone who was not populist and did have a reputation of rejecting the status quo just a couple years ago become a slave to this Rovian demagoguery at the service of the base. I concur with the observation of Hutchison which right there reveals his desire to shore up the base namely, regarding the abortion issue.

    This time he listened too much to the whispers in his ear and he has been nailing his political coffin shut ever since he selected Palin. She has turned out to be a lightbulb that while twice as bright for a time, is burning out twice as fast.

  2. Yes, there was a time when I could have voted for John McCain. He once seemed to be a voice of reason, and he had a good chance of taking and holding the center if he stuck to it. It was even possible to speculate that he could break the hold of the rabid religious right wing and their secular counterparts, the Loony Right, on the republican party. If he could have pulled off that admittedly spectacular and unlikely coup, then I could consider joining the republican party. But that’s all gone, now. He has sold out. He has sought out the worst, most extreme reactionary elements of the party and told them they’re the boss and that he’s their man and will do their bidding. That being so, you know he couldn’t possibly choose Kay Baily Hutchison, no matter her conservative cred because she doesn’t pass the right wing litmus test: she is against outlawing abortion and supports the Roe v. Wade decision as securing a settled constitutional right.

    Goodbye principled reformer, goodbye American hero, goodbye principled ex-POW who suffered for and served his country with honor — you are inoperative, you do not exist, it is as though you never had.

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