There was a time during primary season in the 2000 election, months before the Pretendsident hijacked everything, when–in my eyes, at least–you were the man. You were tough but likable. You were the guy that walked the fine line between conservative and progressive, and you did it with style. You were strong and solid on the issues, but you were willing to listen and be swayed when people on the opposite side of the fence made sense.
Had the 2000 primary season gone another way, I would have voted for you.
I feel bad what happened to you after that election–how the Bush administration castrated you and beat you into submission. And though I shook my head over the last few years at what a hollow shell of your former self you’d become, I was secretly heartened when you tossed your hat in the ring this time around.
Maybe, I thought, we’ll see a glimpse of the real John McCain for a change. Now that he will, presumably, be out from under the thumb of the Bush regime, maybe he’ll reassert himself. Maybe he’ll disavow and speak out against the politics of divisiveness, corruption, and hate that have gained a death-grip strangle hold on his party and our country.
Alas, I was to be sorely disappointed.
I don’t know what happened to you, John McCain. What happened? When did you go from the man to "the man"?
And when did you fall so far that the value of your word and your integrity was lost forever? I thought they had gotten your body and your mind…but your soul, too?
Take a look at this memo from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, dated March 11, 2008 (courtesy of Time Magazine). It pledges a "respectful campaign" from your camp, John. One in line with the "highest standards" you have held yourself to throughout your life. And finally, this…
"Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from
the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our
nation and the Democrats’. This campaign is about John McCain: his
vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and
ability to lead as commander in chief from day one."
Do your constant attacks on Barack Obama’s character since he’s become the presumptive Democratic nominee jibe with the commitment you made, Mr. McCain? And is your wife guilty of a bald-faced lie when she said on the Today Show (on May 8): "What you’re going to see is a great debate. Which is what the American Public deserves. None of this negative stuff, though. You won’t see it come out of our side at all."
If she wasn’t lying and you weren’t lying, then how do you explain this ad?
As if the comparison to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton wasn’t enough, you set the stage for the ad using (I believe) footage from Obama’s recent speech in Berlin accompanied by ominous chanting that made the event look like scene straight out of Triumph of Will. There’s even a moment when you seem to have Obama mouthing the word "war". So…in total, what you’re really implying is that Barack Obama is the irresponsible, reckless, and dumbed-down celebrity that Spears and Hilton embody AND Adolf Hitler to boot?
It’s too much, John McCain. Too much. You have gone too far. Fallen too far. Too low. Shame on you and your smug countenance at the tail end of this disgrace of an ad.
I gotta tell you, I am an Obama man. I believe in his message; I believe in his vision, which I think might actually deliver on a promise George Bush the first made years ago–of a "kinder, gentler nation." One that is prepared and able to operate in the 21st Century world.
But even in 2008 there was a moment. When I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. When I thought that maybe the John McCain I was proud to support in 2000 would break through the crust.
I am sorry that didn’t happen. Mostly, however, I am disappointed. Deeply disappointed.
UPDATE — August 2, 2008, from Reuters:
"Republican John McCain‘s
presidential team mocked Democrat Barack Obama on Friday as an
overconfident, Messiah-like candidate with a tendency toward
exaggeration in a Web ad that closed out a week of attacks.
"The ad, e-mailed to supporters, refers to Obama as ‘The
One’ and uses rhetoric from some of Obama’s high-flying
speeches, making fun of quotes such as, ‘We are the ones we’ve
been waiting for,’ and ‘This was the moment when the rise of
the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’
"’It shall be known that in 2008, the world shall be
blessed,’ the announcer intones. ‘They will call him: The One.’"
And the finale:
"McCain, at a news conference, smiled as he talked about the
"’We were having some fun with our supporters,’ he said. ‘We’re going to display a sense of humor in this campaign.’
"He said he was running a ‘very respectful campaign.’
"’I don’t think our campaign is negative in the slightest,’
Really, John McCain? Really?
What color is the sky in your world?