Columns 2008

McCain made cynical choice

There was a time when I thought John McCain really was a different kind of politician, one who would put his country above his personal desire for grandeur. I stopped thinking that the day he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate. The sheer hubris that went into that selection simply takes my breath away.

Sarah Palin is untested and untried. There were dozens of other people much more qualified to be McCain’s running mate who would not have caused people to question how ready they’d be to take over if something happened to McCain. To my mind, it’s fairly clear that the only reason McCain chose Palin was because she brought in a demographic he desperately needed – the right wing, conservative Christian base of Republicans voters who view McCain with distrust and distaste.

So basically McCain decided that getting elected was more important than making sure he had someone on his ticket who could successfully run our nation should something happen to him. He chose his ambition over the welfare of his country. Karl Rove lives on in McCain’s cynical and calculated choice – me first, the Republican party second and America a distant third.

I watched the Republican convention with great bemusement as the speakers took their turns laying out the party’s vision for America. As best I could tell they believed you had to come from a small town to have any morality. If you dared to get down in the street and work to make life better for us common folk, then you were some kind of fool to be mocked. I looked at the people speaking at the Republican Convention, from Mitt Romney to John (I-don’t-know-how-many-houses-I-own) McCain and wondered how they could keep a straight face while claiming that Barack Obama is some sort of elitist.  I looked at Giuliani who probably can’t remember how many wives he’s had, to McCain who has had his fair share, and wondered where the Christian right moralists are and why they aren’t railing against these people. I looked at the young man standing on the stage with the Palin’s accepting applause and wondered what he was being applauded for – dropping out of school or getting a 17 year old pregnant?

But mostly I wondered if it had been Chelsea Clinton standing on the stage at the Democratic Convention pregnant and unwed, just how many hysterical fits Rush Limbaugh and the conservative Christian media would have had in denouncing her and her family’s lax morals.

Yeah, I’m mad now. I’m mad because I truly thought McCain would run a campaign that did not cater to our basest instincts and the lowest common denominator but would engage Obama is a real exchange of ideas on the problems America faces. And these problems have nothing to do with sex ed in schools or being pro or anti choice or who you are allowed to marry.  None of those issues has hurt America as much as the philosophy emanating from Washington DC that gives to those who have and suggests the rest of us eat cake.

We have people entering the winter wondering if they will be able to pay their heating bill and mortgage in the same month; we have people who get needlessly seriously ill because they have no access to health care; we have a tanking economy and a war that continues to drain our resources while adding trillions of dollars in future debt for our children to pay.  If you want immoral, those conditions are the very definition of it.

But instead of an honest discussion of these issues, McCain makes a cynical choice for VP and then announces he and Sarah represent the party of change. Well, you know what, his party has been in charge for six of the past eight years. So I have to wonder why they waited until things got so bad to decide change was needed. And I have to wonder why McCain is so desperate to avoid a discussion of the real issues that instead he brings back the ghosts of elections past that so divided us in the first place.

I once thought John McCain was an honorable man who would try to make a difference. I don’t think that any longer.