McCain’s Last Chance to Save McCain

I have to confess that I have never been a fan of John McCain, politically speaking. He’s far too conservative for my tastes. But up until the last few years, I always thought of him as being a step or two above the right wing cabal Mccain_bush_hug_twn
that took over the Republican Party years ago. While he stuck with his party almost all of the time, on a few key issues he had the capacity to surprise, such as when he teamed with Russ Feingold to at least try to reform the campaign finance system. He wasn’t actually a “maverick,” but he wasn’t an immovable right winger.

If that McCain had run for president this year, he may have had a chance to make the presidential race close. Instead, he turned himself into a staunch right wing clown, in a year when that was the last thing voters want. In the process of this race, McCain has tarnished his legacy, and demonstrated a desperation for the presidency that is probably one of the prime reasons Hillary Clinton lost earlier this year. Voters want someone who will work for them, to fix the nation’s problem; not someone who think he/she deserves to be president, and should be anointed as such.

John McCain was always the underdog in this election. Any Republican who won the nomination was likely to go down in defeat against any Democrat, save some incredibly boneheaded stunt by the Democratic nominee, which would have made the election close enough to steal once again.

Even Republicans and their supporters understood this. That’s why, early on, they supported their primary candidates to such a minimal degree. It’s why Republican supporters haven’t been papering party headquarters with money all year. The standard bearer for the Republican Party was persona non grata at the national convention.

It’s just the Democrats year. Voters are hungry for change, and they
blame the Republican Party for the series of fiascos we find ourselves facing. The
“wrong track” numbers have been upwards of 70% for almost two years,
and in the last year, it’s been consistently at or above 80%. And the
right wingers in GOP leadership positions can’t shift the blame,
because they ran the whole show for most of the last eight years.Make no mistake; voters KNOW it’s all the fault of the right wing Republican Party.

problem with McCain is, he saw his nomination as something it wasn’t.
McCain won the Republican nomination by default. He received the
nomination because he was a known quantity, and because the other candidates were so bad as to be
laughable; they jumped all over themselves to placate the far right, and McCain was nominated because they all canceled each other out with their pander. He was less able to pander, because he ran out of money, and couldn’t pander as effectively as the others.

Republican politicians weren’t exactly lining up to run for the
presidency this year, because political experts were warning of a likely defeat
by any Republican candidate against any Democratic candidate,
especially against Hillary Clinton, who was thought to be the most
likely nominee. Now, political experts aren’t always wrong, but with a
the lamest of ducks in the White House, and an electorate hungry for
change, whoever won the Republican nomination was going to have an
uphill battle. In other words, John McCain was the Bob Dole of 2008; a
sacrificial lamb.

John McCain had to understand this, and if he
didn’t, his people should have. The above doesn’t mean he had no chance
at all; the odds were against Bush in 2000 and 2004, as well. What it
meant was that REPUBLICANS were not in favor this year, and a
REPUBLICAN was going to have a difficult time winning election this
year.His best shot would be to differentiate himself from the far right wing of the Republican Party. Instead, he embraced them, and embraced their worn out rhetoric. He’s running as George Bush’s third term, and he’s adopted Karl Rove-style rhetoric, at a time when Rove’s champions have approval ratings in the teens and low 20s, and Rove himself is considered something akin to Satan incarnate.

Which is why it’s all the more puzzling that John
McCain, who until this year was one of the few true conservatives still
left in the Republican Party hierarchy, transformed himself into a Bush
clone. The McCain of 2000 would actually have a much better chance of
winning this year; so why did McCain turn himself into a combination of
Bush 2000? And why would he choose as his running mate someone who is
essentially Bush with a vagina?

What else could anyone do but laugh at the headline
on The Huffington Post last night; “GOP Leaders: (…)Our Message Isn’t Connecting”? If
someone could articulate any sort of “message” from the drivel that’s
coming from the McCain camp, I’d love to hear it. This is essentially
what he talks about; if you can find a “message” in it, well, you’re
more delusional than articulate;

  • He likes to talk
    about “winning” in Iraq, but never articulates what that means,
    especially given that we won the war almost six years ago, and right
    now, we’re simply occupying the country.
  • On getting bin
    Laden, he says he has a secret plan to do so, which he won’t reveal
    until he’s elected president; an extortion of sorts that would be
    tantamount to treason, if we actually believed he had such a plan. 
  • On
    taxes, he talks about not raising any, on anyone, no matter what,
    except one on health insurance premiums, which would cripple many small
    businesses, and cost many individuals their health care coverage.
  • On
    the economy, he’s admitted he doesn’t know that much about it, and has
    set about to prove just that. He doesn’t understand the current credit
    crisis, his proposed “solutions” are rash and more likely to do more
    harm than good. Not only that, but his main advisor on the economy is
    Phil Gramm, who is acknowledged to be an architect of the current
    economic catastrophe.
  • He touts his experience and judgment,
    and then proceeds to choose the supremely inept Sarah Palin as his
    running mate, just to placate the far right, who apparently don’t care
    if someone is even less qualified to be president than Bush, as long as
    they go to church and rail against abortion.
  • His main
    critiques of Barack Obama have to do with Obama’s "associations." He
    talks about Obama’s association with William Ayers, despite the fact
    that one of his top contributors tapped both Ayers and Obama for the
    committee they both served on. He’s allowed Caribou Barbie to go on
    about Reverend Jeremiah Wright, despite the fact that Wright probably
    has a better record in his community than John Hagee has in his, and
    Caribou Barbie’s had pastors who were witch doctors, and listened to at
    least on sermon by a virulent anti-Semite. And he’s always bringing up
    the one ex-Fannie Mae executive who has advised the Obama campaign, and
    ignored the dozen or so he’s had advising his campaign.

what’s the message in all of this, Republican Party? Besides the usual,
“if you vote for Democrats, terrorists will kill you,” I mean? There’s
no message coming from anyone on the Republican side. And I’m not sure
the GOP has anything to offer, at this point. Only the far right faithful are buying the whole "Barack Obama is an Arab Muslim Terrorist Devil" bullshit, and they wouldn’t vote for anyone without an R after their name, anyway.

Which is why it’s
so curious that John McCain chose this election year, of all times, to
be a typical Republican. He was always conservative, but until the last
few years, he was usually at odds with his party’s leadership. If
McCain had kept fighting against the right wingers who took over his
party and ran it into the ground, he might have actually had a shot
this year. The odds were against it, but he could have kept it
relatively close. Instead, he chose to embrace the GOP base, and the
right wing of his party, and pretty much sealed his doom.

Senator McCain wants to salvage his legacy, he hasn’t much time. It’s
probably too late to save his candidacy, but he can fix it so that the
last memory of John McCain, Republican nominee, is as a fighter. He
can’t just say he’s a maverick; he actually has to be one.

McCain probably won’t win this election, The odds were always against
that. But now, he’s faced with a choice. He can either buck his party –
something he is always chiding Obama for supposedly NOT doing – and
knock off all the coded racism, and start running on his own strengths,
or he can run as he’s been running, with all of the vitriol and racism,
and make that the last thing people remember of his political legacy
and reputation.

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