Since the conventions, McCain has lost the enthusiastic support of fiscal conservatives and the intellectual wing of the Republican Party. He never fully captured the unqualified support of the most reasoned Christian conservatives. His support among active duty military and veterans is very weak for a Republican, as is faith in him from small businesspersons and the Wall Street regulars. McCain hemmorages support as both the man and the campaign seem hellbent on doing the once unthinkable — damaging the Republican brand even more gravely than George W Bush himself.
McCain is losing the visible support of reasoned Republican voters as they stand back in the shadows, disturbed or embarrassed for their own sullied identity. Thus McCain’s support is decanting down to the lowest common remainder — people who hate Barack Obama — because they believe he’s actually a Muslim, because he’s black, because they can’t think of him as a “real American” and/or because his intelligence and magnetism alone seems implausible or threatening to them. They have no real tangible “McCain Plan” and their candidate leaves them nothing to follow, so they are left to stand united only in hatred and xenophobia.
And standing on the front line is “real American” Sarah Palin, the Joan of Ark of the new McCarthyism.
With varying degrees of certainty and no shortage of chagrin, a host of onetime McCain media groupies have publicly abandoned their seats in the horseshoe-shaped couch aboard the Straight Talk Express. “He has become the sort of politician he once despised,” declares The Washington Post’s once-smitten Richard Cohen. “John McCain is not a principled man. In fact, it’s not clear who he is,” writes Elizabeth Drew, a woman who wrote a broadly positive 2002 book about who McCain is. “I just can’t wait for the moment when John McCain–contrite and suddenly honorable again in victory or defeat–talks about how things got a little out of control in the passion of the moment,” grumbles Joe Klein, who’d earlier predicted that McCain’s nomination would assure an honorable fall campaign, but has spent much of the season denouncing the Senator for various acts of dishonor.
George Wills, the most respected public face of fiscal restraint and old school Republicanism chastised McCain two weeks ago
Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
McCain the “maverick” has devolved into the McCain the loose cannon, scowling, rage-filled and at times incoherent. It is common and expected for politicians to question each others honesty, skills and accomplishments. It is quite another to question their patriotism and cast a colleague as traitorous. McCarthy built a career upon it and a desperate McCain follows his lead.
Sarah Palin, the doer of John’s dirty work, dares to dictate to all of us, just as Joe McCarthy did, the meaning of “real American.” Her rallying cry of “country first” and “love of country” is not only simplistic and xenophobic but blatantly McCarthyistic. How regretable, that in the rush to “fair and balanced”, no one in the media dares to openly notice.
Existential angst manifests itself in the search for “evil doers” and scape goats. As we now face unfathomable economic rather than nuclear destruction, “Terrorists” have replaced “Communists” as the incarnations of blind fear. Palin throws red meat to the lowest common remainder dogs that follow her, those clinging to their hatred and paranoia, by incessantly beating her drum of exclusion and distrust, of cultural division and patriotic superiority, regardless of the cost to the country she so synthetically purports to love.
What does it say about her great grand and perfect America that a terrorist sympathizer, a cult leader, a man worthy of gravest suspicions and uniquely unAmerican can hold a seat in the Senate, earn the nomination of a major party and enjoy the support of over half of the American people? Are we that blind and she that wise?
And what’s next? A political litmus test based on past associations — pastors you haven’t walked out on, emails you answered, who you’ve tacitly approved of, who you haven’t publically denounced and denied? When did examining the patriotism of others become acceptable again?
Has the new blacklist already been built?
When was it that we forgot (was it on 9/11?) that one can both love their country and grieve for it. When was “real American” defined to exclude those who think too much or are educated too well or dare to fight for progressive ideals?
“pal to terrorists”
“those who don’t love this country the way I do”
Sarah Palin denounces the character of all who don’t look, or sound or think as she does. By her spite-filled definition Martin Luther King was not a real American, nor was Franklin Roosevelt. King, Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall all stands beneath her, along with this extraordinary American.
When you have thirty eight minutes to heal your soul, watch again.