Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"That Other One" Sets A New, Abysmal Low For Debate Demeanor

That the McCain/Palin ticket has little or nothing to offer to solve the country's problems has been glaringly apparent in the three debates we have seen so far.

That they are out of touch with the American public is obvious in some of the answers the two Republican candidates have given to some of the most pressing issues that face the country (Healthcare in America? A responsibility. The Iraq war? We MUST come home as victors and stay in Iraq for as long as it takes, even while the economy plummets and more people join the ranks of the unemployed, the uninsured, and the uncared-for-poor. And the list goes on, too long as it is for a short post.)

That the McCain campaign is desperate to change the subject, from the problems they have no answers for to anything else, is no secret. McCain and Palin have launched a guilt by association campaign that may very well backfire on them, for the company they have kept (G. Gordon Liddy, Charles Keating, Alaskan secessionists, and a witch hunting pastor, just to name a few) is--at least--just as bad as the company they accuse Sen. Obama of keeping.

That McCain is a desperately dishonorable, rancorous, and acrid candidate came across quite plainly when, after his latest attack on Obama's ties with Weather Underground founding member William Ayers, an audience member at the rally shouted, quite loudly and clearly, "Terrorist!". Sen. McCain obviously heard the shout, as he halted for a split second, smirked, and then continued in his speech without condemning the perpetrator. His bitterness and lack of class his equaled only by Gov. Palin's stultifying vitriol, when she called Obama unpatriotic and unfit to be president, again for Sen. Obama's ties with Ayers, and charged on as a member in her audience shouts "Kill him!" Obviously, whether the audience member referred to Sen. Obama or William Ayers is immaterial.

That they are using disgusting Rovian tactics is unforgivable, since Rovian tactics are what Bush used to destroy McCain in the 2000 campaign for the Republican nomination, and because McCain has on many occasions disavowed them. His justification for using those same tactics against Sen. Obama is that the Illinois senator has refused to indulge McCain's offer to hold ten town hall meetings instead of the debates. After last night's vitriolic performance by Sen. McCain, one is left to wonder what benefit the Arizona senator might expect from losing in a town hall meeting instead of a debate, not to mention the fact--highlighted by Jon Stewart (at 4:35 in the video)--that the "town hall excuse" for the smear campaign McCain is running is tantamount to saying "I wanted to play Monopoly, he wanted to play Scrabble, so I punched him in the nuts."

Against this background, it is not surprising that Cindy McCain, in defiance of reality and of observable facts, is now calling Sen. Obama's campaign for change in America (and, consequentially, against her husband) the "dirtiest campaign" in U.S. history, in a reversal of the truth straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

The really emblematic trait of Sen. McCain's campaign is that he is attempting to win by sucking his audience into the contempt he holds for Sen. Obama. In the first debate, McCain did not look at Sen. Obama once. In last night's debate, he busied himself taking notes while Sen. Obama was speaking, in a contrived and clear effort to justify his not looking at Sen. Obama, whom he spent the evening attacking.

The wheels finally came off McCain's bullshit bus when, during an exchange on energy policy, the curmudgeonly, peeved, and petulant senator referred to Sen. Obama as "that one."

It was a first. Never, in my experience of watching debates, do I remember a candidate referring to his adversary wish such dismissive spite. This attitude, as reflective as it is of Sen. McCain's true colors, is particularly deplorable coming from a senator who never tires of reminding us how he has a history of reaching across party lines to get things done.

But even as offensive as the moment was, it will be remembered only as one of the many symptoms of a truly diseased campaign, one of too many moments of subconscious transparency of a man who apparently considers vitriol, ill-temper, and dismayingly bad manners necessary ingredients of a half-baked maverick.

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