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.