Saturday, October 11, 2008

What happened to the John McCain I used to like?

I used to like John McCain. Really. Didn't agree with him on everything, but I always thought of him as one of the more sane Republicans, one who was reasonable, not buying into every crazy idea the far right wing of his party was putting forth. Hell, he was even a victim of Karl Rove's slimeball tactics. And he always had a great sense of humor. I'd have loved to have a beer with him.

Where did that guy go? He's not the guy running for President. The John McCain I thought I knew was the guy who accurately called the religious right "agents of intolerance". Surely he wouldn't choose a hilariously unqualified running mate just to appease those same people.

The John McCain I knew had some integrity. He wouldn't base his whole campaign on questionable claims made in an increasingly slimy series of negative ads. He wouldn't hire Rove's disciples to organize the slime. He wouldn't rile up the right wing crazies to the point where they became scary. He would run on the issues.

The McCain I liked is the guy who opposed Bushes tax cuts because they would boost the deficit. He was the guy who, even though he supported what I thought was a stupid war in Iraq, said that the Bushies were doing a bad job of running the war, and called for Rummy's head.

The McCain I liked was a straight talker. Where did he go?

The guy I see running for President isn't that guy. One of his strengths as a candidate should have been his appeal to the middle. But he blew that when he ran too far to the right to appease the Rush Limbaugh crowd. He changed his tune on the Bush tax cuts, embraced the Christian right and pretended to believe what they believe. He hired Rove's guys, and went negative early and often. His straight talk got crooked.

Here is what I really don't understand about his badly run campaign: Did he not understand Dick Nixon's sage advice "Run hard to the right to get the nomination, then run hard to the center once you have it"? Instead, he followed the Rove prescription of working the base. So, he kept running harder to the right by choosing Sarah the Moosedressing Mom as his running mate. It appeased the right, but turned off the rest of the country, including educated, intelligent Republicans. Now, his claims to be a maverick are weakened because so many of those things he did that opposed is own party he has now backed off.

This is actually quite sad. As a result of this campaign, a man who had the respect of most of the country may end up with almost no respect. Even those far righties who he has sucked up to don't really like him (mostly because people like me did), and the rest of us are really embarrassed for him.

Now that I've dissed him, I do give him kudos for finally telling his bloodthirsty crowd yesterday that Obama deserves their respect. That was the John McCain that I liked. I hope he comes back soon.

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