October 13, 2008
The Hate-Talk Express - Is This Really the Way You Want to Go Out, Senator McCain?
By Mary Lyon
Dear Senator McCain,
One way or another, you reach an end on November 4th. We do know that for certain, even though no one can say what kind of end it will be - whether the road takes you to the Oval Office or to the finish of your long-held ambition to be President. But one thing has ended already: your integrity, and any protestations that your campaign isn't as racist and hate-ridden as hell. This is how you want to close at least this towering phase of your career?
Sorry to be that blunt, but that's how it looks. That's how it looks whenever the goons (predominantly Anglo) at your rallies start shouting "Terrorist!" and "Traitor!" and "Kill him!" - and when an unfortunate female low-information voter insists Barack Obama is an Arab to be feared and mewls a wimped-out "no?" when you attempt an equally wimped-out correction of her faulty opinion. That same woman later told reporters that even a personal reassurance from you that "he's not" didn't change her mind. Your campaign's denunciation of Congressman John Lewis's complaint about how you and your running mate are playing with fire and racist hatred speaks a lot more forcefully.
I've seen Code Pink protestors forcibly ejected from similar public assemblies. I've heard what they've called out. None of them ever advocated the death of someone. Rather, they tend to object to that kind of thing. The same goes for anyone in any Obama/Biden crowd - they may boo your name or your policies but they don't advocate violence or murder against you. So how come the people who've done that at your rallies aren't treated the same as the Code Pink people - physically carted out of there and thus made into an example of how not to behave? No. They're allowed to stay and keep on cheering their angry, murderous, racist cheers. And all you do is offer a milquetoast version of "now-now-now," while outside, some of them have actually been telling reporters that they think Obama should die.
Deny it all you will. They're saying and doing these things in your name. And you're not exactly going out of your way to convince them to stop.
It's even worse with Sarah Palin, who, the weekend after your town hall debate with Obama, started a shrill caterwauling trying to exaggerate Obama's "relationship" with William Ayers: "he's palling around with TERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRists!" Funny how the temperature of the audience members at McCain/Palin rallies reached the boiling point directly afterwards, and nobody in your camp said squat. Certainly they haven't said much to Palin. Her retort at subsequent rallies was an even more pathetic "it is not negative, it is not mean-spirited to talk about his record." His "record" of "palling around with TERRRRRRRRRRRRists"? The record that's described as paths actually crossing sporadically in Chicago
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/04/us/politics/04ayers.html or the "record" she's stretching ridiculously out of shape? I have yet to hear her say peep about calming down her bloodthirsty mob. Yet she'll stand there, winking and smiling and piling on the lies, the insinuations, and the folksy "doggonnit-you-betcha-hockey-mom-isms" til the last knuckledragger has gone home.
The fabled "Straight-Talk Express" has devolved into the "Hate-Talk Express." And, Senator, as your campaign commercials state: "I'm John McCain, and I approved this message." You may not get to sit with the Harry Truman desk accessories, but the buck still stops with you. You protest (too much) that John Lewis's comments are beyond the pale. Like the stuff we're still hearing at your campaign rallies isn't? That's not the impression you're trying to make? Really? My mistake. I couldn't tell from the angry, racist, jingoist thugs that infest the crowds you attract. And if that's not enough, you've still got a whole separate phalanx of hate-radio and Fox Noise minions relentlessly keeping the heat turned up on this boiling kettle of poison even after your events conclude and the rabble scatters. I'm sorry, Senator McCain. This IS the bed you and Palin made. And it is hideous. No wonder you don't want to lie down on it. It's so repulsive out there among your extremist supporters that at this point all we can pray for is that there isn't another Tim McVeigh or John Hinkley or other nutcase lurking in those crowds...
Yeah. I'm upset, in case you didn't notice. If I ever liked you or admired you before, Senator McCain, rest assured that's GONE now. You make my lip curl and my stomach turn. Watching your bloodthirsty and horrifyingly misguided followers in action makes me want to take a bath and spray disinfectant on my television and radio. THIS is what you attract. THIS is what you've stirred up. Yes. That's correct. YOU. The guy who keeps claiming he's putting "Country First." What country is that, Senator McCain? Nazi Germany? John Lewis wasn't far off to remind you and all America of the dreadful and increasingly obvious similarities between you and George Wallace at his worst. That was an ugly time back then - of which Lewis knows far too personally and too painfully. And what happens among your fans in and around your campaign events is just as ugly now. It's not at all surprising that this highly respected civil rights icon is having a déjà vu.
You and Sarah Palin both would have to go much farther in your public repudiations of this madness among your followers than you have, but I suspect you won't because you need those people, don't you? They're the only reliable voters you can count on anymore. What a sad statement about this point in your political career - that by these friends and supporters art thou known.
Which brings me to my original question: Is this the way you want to go out? You're 72 and not exactly the picture of health, and it's likely your campaigning days are coming to an end, whichever way you slice it. Is this really the last taste you want to leave in voters' mouths? When people look back on your final run for the White House, and study your campaign, how will they be able to avoid the bile rising up from their stomachs to the backs of their throats? How will presidential campaign historians step through the muck you'll have left behind without holding their noses and avoiding the urge to throw up?
You've spent a long time in the military and in public service, Senator McCain. Surely you care about that legacy. Why are you stooping so low as to squat on all that you tried to build in your life? I remind myself that you really did try to do some good things, but because of the dramatic devolution I see, I'm having a hard time remembering. As the late broadcaster Tom Snyder once said, "you're only as good as your last show." And this one's nothing but a horror show so far.