Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's R vs D, Not Good vs Evil...

Or Christian vs Muslim, Jedi vs Sith, Autobots vs Decepticons or The Yankees vs The Redsox. For fuck's sake people, we have got to run a bit deeper than 'my guy' vs 'your guy' or this country is fucked. But, it is the American way after all, isn't it? We've been trained to believe that there is only one good outcome to any contest, and we have such a deep abiding hate for losing and losers that we can't even focus on substance. All we see is W's and L's or states carried and electoral votes.

The idea of "the lesser of two evils" has become popular in politics in our nation, and by and large, I have felt that way in years past. But that can't turn us into a nation of people who hitch ourselves to one candidate and then spend the next four or eight years hating the other one. We have two men in this race who both chose to serve their Country as elected officials, and that is just about the most patriotic thing you can do. The very fact that political ads purport to question the patriotism of either of them, is what should be considered treason.

What we've ended up with is one candidate who is so desperate to win the office, that he's pandered to the fringe of his party, and in the process whipped them into a frenzy. In doing this, John McCain has watched as people at his rallies have begun to yell things like "terrorist" "treason" "traitor" and even "off with his head" about Barack Obama. These things were audible on the TV coverage of the rallies, but neither McCain or Palin stopped and chastised the person who said it. Finally, yesterday, McCain took a stand against this thinking when he shot down a woman who said that Obama is an Arab. There was the Maverick, and for his trouble, he was booed by his crowd of "supporters."

I really believe that John McCain is a good man, and I believe it's been killing him to campaign on the lowest common denominator, but in the end I think he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Call it the "Bush/Rove" playbook, and remember that McCain knows all about it, since it was used to great effect on him by those two. They managed to turn his service in Vietnam (which Bush sat out) into a negative, by saying that his time in the Hanoi Hilton turned him into a crazy man. They made phone calls in South Carolina saying that McCain had fathered a half black baby. And the electorate bought it back then, although they seem to have forgotten all that now.

To his credit, Barack Obama hasn't revisited any of Bush's attacks, to try and strengthen his own cause. He hasn't landed any first punches, instead choosing to play defence on the "October Surprise" moments while staying on message about what he wants to do for the American people. He's made his case to the people why he thinks he's qualified to be President, and because of that he has a chance to win. I can't think of anything more worthy of the office, than levelheaded and rational thought, backed by consultation with experts and with an ear toward the voters themselves. That's leadership!

McCain has never really said why he thinks he will be a good leader. Instead, he says "I know how to solve (insert problem here)" without telling us how he would do so, and immediately begins to ask "Who is Barack Obama really?" Rather than make a strong case for himself, he seems intent on playing to people baseist instincts as he tries to paint Obama as unfit to hold the office. I think John McCain is a good man, who has chosen a bad plan to try and win a contest that has become too much about casting a poor light on the opposition rather than a positive light on yourself. And that is sad.


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