Like many Democrats and other Educated-Americans, my soul has ached during the 8-year rule of the boy king. 8 years of an intellectually and morally challenged president and his cadres of misanthropes, underachievers, dirty tricksters, and other assorted villains, thieves and scoundrels. So perhaps the single aspect of the McCain/Palin ticket that is most repugnant, and it is repugnant on so many levels, is the prospect of returning people of similar moral bankruptcy and bad intent to positions of power.
But that is the political process. After 8 years of nucular winter, we now have to endure more smugness and stupidity excreted from the mouth of Sarah Gump. But I guess Democracy is also like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. The same wave that carrries in an FDR also vomits up flotsam like Nixon, Agnew, or Palin. The same open process that gave us Eugene McCarthy, also gave us Joe McCarthy.
And while the polls and momentum have shifted toward Obama, the resulting behavior on the Republican side leads one to ask the same question of McCain that was once posed to Joe McCarthy: Have you no decency? And the answer, apparently, is no. Like a cornered, wounded animal, he will do anything to survive. He’s out of legitimate options. He can’t run on leadership, as his erratic behavior, grandstanding stunts, and regulation/deregulation flip-flops during the recent financial crisis made him look like Sybil trying to decide on a personality. Much like Richard Gere’s character at a dramatic moment in An Officer and a Gentleman, John McCain has “nowhere else to go.” All he’s got left is the race card. And he’s now shown his willingness to play it. To reach out and stoke that ember of fear and bigotry that still lingers in this country like an elusive cancer cell. Not that he’ll come right out and say it. That would be undignified. The low-standard bearer in this effort is his political trophy wife, Chatty Cathy. Just load in the phrases, pull the string, and she’ll say anything.
Witness the dishonorable discharge dripping out of the campaign. “He’s not one of us.” “He doesn’t see America like you and me.” “Barrack Hussein.” “He’s pallin’ around with terrorists.” “He’s different.” “He has a funny name.” (“Don’t trust the black guy. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.”) Look at the hatred it engenders from the crowds. And watch the candidates smirk as they do nothing to quell it. Because they want it. This is shameful. Yes, politics is a dirty business. But this should be beneath us.
It is sad, in a way, to witness someone’s descent into the abyss as he becomes his own agent of intolerance. Yet, to paraphrase the senator: the fundamentals of our democracy are strong. The system has weathered the storms of demagoguery from the Joe McCarthys and Nixons and been able to right itself. I suppose that’s why Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government…except for all the rest. But democracy is only as stable as the hands in which its been entrusted at any given moment in history. Hopefully, it will be placed in Barack Obama’s hands. And whatever Faustian bargain McCain’s struck that’s lead him to eschew honor and decency to win at all costs will become a matter for him and his shrink, his bartender, or his croupier.