Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

I Saw Fear Today

John McCain was scared today.  He was scared, and shocked, into acting like a decent human being again, if only for a moment.  He actually stood his ground at that rally and tried to do something human.  I applaud him for it.  We all should, even those of us who consider him little better than scum at the moment.  Seriously, turn off your campaign-mode rage for a second, stop judging the man, and just judge the act itself.  It was a good thing that he did.

But it took fear.  His “supporters” scared the shit out of him.  I don’t think he got it, really got it, until today.  A lot of these people are nuts and he’s feeding them.  The mumbling, grumbling, and murmuring around the edges became a roar.  Why?  He lent them legitimacy.  It’s his fault, and he must have realized it.

This diary is not a puff-piece on John McCain.  He has disappointed me throughout the race and I am very nearly ashamed of ever having thought kindly of him.  I honored the John McCain of 2000 for far longer than reality itself warranted.  But no matter.

He’s stuck.  Rational arguments won’t work for him because reason itself does not support his candidacy, his party, or his ideology, such as it is.  The Republican Party will survive, it will learn, it will grow, and it will win again.  We need to be honest about that, by the way.  Hubris was foolish when Rove did it – let’s not do the same.  But my point is this – John McCain won’t win by force of argument because what he suggests simply won’t work and certainly does not resonate with most Americans right now.

He knows that.  He’s not an idiot.  That knowledge is the only thing that convinced him to go so incredibly negative.  I’m pretty sure he meant it when he promised (albeit very, very early on) to stay positive.  I think he was being a bit of an idiot in doing so.  He didn’t realize how incredibly fucked he was.  He’s learned that.

So reason won’t work, and it can’t work.  Talking about earmarks and indeed even taxes isn’t working.  It cannot work.  The problems we face are too mammoth to focus on such things as “growth.”  Without reason, what’s left?

Fear-mongering, conflation, and smears are all he has left.  He tried them.  They may have had some small effect in his favor, which is why he didn’t stop.  That being said, he learned today when that crowd actually booed him for saying a decent thing.

I saw fear today.  I saw fear in John McCain’s eyes.  He feared what he’s emboldened.  John McCain did not create this pernicious and vicious hate.  He didn’t father it.  No, we, the people did that.  It’s our collective fault and we’ll have to come to grips with this as we grow older.  Our parents and their parents had to come to grips with racism, firehouses, and dogs.  We’ll have to come to grips with this.

John McCain didn’t make this evil, but he attempted to use it.  He tried, and he realized today exactly what that would mean.  While I applaud the act (as we all should, and any who don’t are simply too damned blinded by anger, rage, or partisanship), the fact that it took actual fear to get him to do it, well….it doesn’t speak well of John McCain.

I suppose he may come to realize, in the next few days, that he doesn’t deserve to win.  I don’t know what he’ll do.  How many stages are there of grief?  

In any case, today we saw a man effectively look in the mirror and not like the man he saw looking back.  I don’t envy him, but I certainly don’t empathize with him.  This is not all his fault, but for his part in it he will likely pay.  If he’s anything at all like what once we though, if he’s got any shred of decency at all, he’ll be the one making himself pay.  He may not get that now.  Indeed, I don’t think he can get that now.  But once he’s had a year or two, after he loses, to reflect, I think he’ll understand what he did over the last week or two.


  1. fogiv

    I agree that took a stab a decency today.  Why?  Was it the fear.  Probably part of it.  It might be that he’s being crucified in the media (his base).  It might be that Republican Brass, fearing that McCain is adversly affecting downticket races, has threatened to seriously crimp his funding tube.  Maybe he’ll just pretend to rise above the fray, while Hockey Puck and the rest of his surrogates keep fanning the flames.  Beats me.

    Let’s see what the next few days hold.

  2. sricki

    I don’t even think McCain is fundamentally a bad man. I think he was a good man — I think he used to have principles. Used to kinda like him, for a Republican. Was defending him against some of the more outrageous attacks as recently as a few months ago.

    I’m sure there was fear. The environment and mentality he’s fostered is rather horrifying. But I still think he’s coming to understand that the further he pushes this, the greater the backlash will be.

  3. GrassrootsOrganizer

    I haven’t been able to find the quote or video of McCain as I heard him on the radio yesterday.

    some old lady shouts out “Obama is an Arab!” and McCain says back (I’m paraphrasing but I’m close)

    “No no he isn’t.  Barack obama is a good and decent man.”

    Oops!  sucks to be you, Arab Americans, who fought in American wars, paid taxes, built your communities from the ground up and dutifully attempted to lead a good life.  And never once bombed anything.

    But, poor bastard, I give him a half point for trying before I deduct fifty for bigotry against an entire ethnicity.  I hope he never needs gas and a pack of smokes at 11PM while driving through Detroit.  

  4. GrassrootsOrganizer

    she looks like her father — a Lebanese Christian immigrant — her twin brother looks like Mom, from a hollar in Tennessee.

    Her father had served in WWII and freed Polish concentration camps.  All his life he was proud of the strong friendships he had with both Jews and Muslims in Dayton.  He became a citizen, worked for forty years, owned his successful business for 20 of that, raised a family.  He earned enough to bring his parents and siblings over, one by one.  He also faithfully sent money to Hamas out of every paycheck for food and medical supplies.  He wanted and got a full military funeral with his VFW buddies of close to fifty years as his honor guard.

    After 911, my friend’s brother, a cop in Atlanta, had a guy in a bar say to him that we should just kill all the fucking Arabs and be done with it.  Her brother picked the guy up by the collar, pinned him to the wall, put his face in his face and said “I’m a fucking Arab.  Want to start with me?”

    the point being — the designation Arabs go back to before Mohammed, before any current political boundaries.  Millions of Americans have Arabic blood in them, and hundreds of thousands of Arabs immigrated to this country in the past 200 years.  

    Danny Thomas was an Arab, so too Margo, so we can thank a couple Arabs for St Judes.  Michael Debakey was an Arab, so That old battleax can thank an Arab for her open heart surgery.  

    William Blatty was an Arab, I really hope “The Exorcist” scared the shit out of the old bitch.  Khalil Gibran was an Arab and I’m pretty sure he never blew anything up.

    Both those old bags of shit were problably big fans of Paul Anka, Casey Kasem and Jamie Farr, even if Frank Zappa scared the shit out them, but I just bet McCain wouldn’t object to a little bit of some Paula Abdul.

    Hey, don’t forget old Spence Abraham, Bush’s first fuck up Energy Secretary and oops!  Ralph Nadar, the guy WE love to hate and John Sununu, ANOTHER terrorist in the Senate, but this time a REPUBLICAN one!

    Doug Flutie, John Zogby and here’s someone McCain SHOULD be terrified of should the worst happen — Helen Thomas.  

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