Having Character vs. Being a Character
October 11, 2008
It’s nice to see McCain make some semblance of an attempt to dial down the lynch-mob atmosphere at his political appearances. Nothing like a Secret Service inquiry to make a man see the light. But it’ll sound a lot more convincing when his campaign stops running the kind of ads that contributed to the racist frenzy. As Josh Marshall points out, McCain’s heart doesn’t seem to be in the whole thing:
I get from his expression a sense of a man that is, in addition to all the other things he’s angry about, is frustrated or angry at the situation he’s gotten himself into. But he has sown the wind and now he’s reaping the whirlwind. “Even,” says TPM Reader RB, “as he says ‘You don’t have to be scared of an Obama presidency’ to a handful of followers (and, more importantly, of national reporters), he is spending millions to bombard as many people as he can with the ad named “Dangerous”. The small hand giveth, and the large hand taketh away.”
And yet this conveys too much suggestion of planning and intent. I have more the sense of someone desperately casting about and losing control of the situation itself. Even hypocrites can get in over their heads. Indeed, in a more nuts-and-bolts strategic sense McCain has really gotten himself into a hole because the campaign he’s been running has almost entirely been premised on the claim that you should be scared of an Obama presidency. Not that McCain, if he’d run a very different campaign, couldn’t have run on issue disagreements with Obama. But right now if you take away fear of Obama becoming president, there’s almost no reason not to vote for him since McCain has basically conceded the issue agenda to Obama. If you look at every poll for months, voters are dying for change. Fear of Obama is the only thing keeping him from leaving McCain in the dust. Take that away and McCain’s done.
At this late date, McCain might not be able to rein in the Kloset Klansmen even if he wants to. I get the sense that a lot of wingnuts and Republicans (to the extent that the two can be distinguished) have given up on McMaverick and are looking to protect their franchises. That means NewsHax, Fox Spews and WingNutDaily will go on pumping their sewage — after all, they sell crazy because with their audience, crazy is what sells. They’ve already laid the foundation for the next few years. Just as Newt Gingrich pronounced Bill Clinton’s victory a “cultural coup,” the winger camp will dismiss Obama’s election, whether he wins through a landslide or a squeaker, as illegitimate. The crazy crap we heard the wingnuts ranting about Clinton — that he was a drug dealer, that he was a rapist, that he orderered the assassination of Vince Foster — will seem like the stuff of sweet reason compared with what they have in store for Obama.
The surrealistic stupidity and staggering dishonesty of McCain’s latest (and one hopes last) bid for the presidency has ended any claim he may have had to our respect. It will be very interesting to see how he handles himself at the final debate. Will he meet the Joe Biden challenge? Will he go out with some semblance of integrity or will he go out in one last burst of poisonous nonsense? He has probably lost the presidency but he may, if he has any self-respect left in him, try to at least salvage his soul.