I was never much taken with John McCain. Even in 2000, when he made a good run against Bush in the Republican primaries and was horribly smeared by the Rove machine, he still seemed, insofar as actual policy was concerned, just another Republican, with enough charm to make him seem slightly different to the easily fooled media. Then during the years of the Bush regime, he started becoming even more conventional, kissing Jerry Falwell's ass (see here), and sucking up to Bush himself. But I was not prepared for the complete abdication of principle that has characterized his campaign for the presidency, especially in recent weeks.
The ads now running for the McCain-Palin ticket in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and a handful of other swing states are beyond contempt, and they insure that John McCain will be remembered as one of the great hypocrites of our age (for a sample, see here).
All the polls suggest that these ads are having little effect on the election. They are, by all reasonable assessment, not convincing independents and late deciders to move to McCain. But I fear that they will have another impact, one that is likely to poison further, if that's even possible, the nature of culture and politics in America. Because McCain and Palin have opted to take the low road, millions of Americans are convinced that Barack Obama is a socialist, a threat to families, a friend of terrorists, even the anti-Christ. Obama will be facing monumental problems when he takes office: unemployment, foreclosures, the world financial crisis, two wars going badly, the imminent apocalypse of climate change--the Bush years have left our country in such a shambles that the list of problems is more or less endless.
For McCain and Palin to spew out such venom as they have the last few weeks makes Obama's challenges more difficult. Millions of ordinary Americans will live in fear that Obama is about to loose the Muslim hordes on them, at the same time that he sends their children off to a madrassa. McCain and Palin are hurting our country terribly. Their lies and innuendo are polarizing, divisive, and as mean spirited as anything we have ever seen in our political culture. John McCain knows that Obama is not a socialist or a terrorist, yet he traffics in slander and threat, thus, in fact, actually terrorizing those Americans susceptible to his vile smears.
McCain's motto is "Country First," yet he clearly is putting his own ambition ahead of country. By continuing to pour out this filth, by filling the airwaves of Pennsylvania and Ohio with this garbage, McCain, once a war hero, is committing nothing short of treason.