Warning: This is really jumbled and disjointed and full of typos. I have such a lot to say and I'm pretty peeved and I just had to get some of this out. I'm sorry it's such a mess.
Twice last night I tried to write something about the last of the three Presidential debates. I guess I want to write not about the difference in issues between the two men but rather the difference in temperament, character and fundamental substance... from my perspective. I know there are others who see this differently and will vote differently than I have already done.
I am exteremely liberal, far more so than Mr. Obama, so my difference on issues with the McCain/Palin ticket is strong, but far more than issues, perhaps ultimately more important - is the difference in character between the candidates on the two tickets. Again, some will see this differently. That is their right and choice.
First, although neither campaign has been completely free of nastiness - the McCain/Palin campaign has been the ugliest I've seen in my 40 years as an eligible voter. It has been packed with lies - about themselves (and I just said "no thanks..." I was "completely exonerated" in troopergate,") or about Mr. Obama (pals around with terrorists, plans to raise your taxes, voted to teach sex to kindergarteners... the list goes on and on...).
It was fascinating last night to watch Mr. McCain last night - the man whose ads and campaign have been spewing around words like terrorist and liar and "who is this man" who "doesn't feel about our country the way we do" - try to make himself the victim. It was fascinating to watch him blame the ugly tone of his campaign on the fact that Obama refused to have a series of town all debates with him. Given how poorly he fared in the one they did have, you would think he'd be grateful. But there was something pathetic in watching him sit there and try to justify a campaign of smears and lies because he didn't get his way on something else. What does one have to do with the other? He sounded like a petulant three year old to me, not a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I get to cheat because you wouldn't play by my rules.
On the issue of judgment. We can start by looking at Mr. McCain's choice of a barely vetted, inexperienced, running mate. Although anyone can die in office for any number of reasons, Mr. McCain is the oldest ever candidate for president and has a history of aggressive melanoma cancers. His choice of a running mate is perhaps more significant that that of others. And he chose a woman who thinks living in a state that borders Russia and Canada gives her foreign policy experience. He chose a woman whose, maverick brand apparently includes violating the ethics laws of her state during a short 18 months in office, a woman who (while she questions other's business association with hippie radicals who have become college professors) is married to a man who is or was for a period of time a member of a group called the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) which advocates secession from the Union. Besides expressing open hatred of the US, this group has been known to promote violence and at one time aligned itself with Iraq in order for it's leader - who was later murded by another member - to gain access to the UN. Besides just palling around with her husband, Mrs. Palin, attended a few meetings herself. Oops. Shall we question her patriotism? Her loyalty to her country? Her judgment? I'd point out that Mrs. Palin isn't 8. She and her husband were involved with these people in their adulthood and quite recently.
I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Mrs. Palin's relationship to the truth seems quite shaky to me. We can start with the "I just said thanks but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere." Well, not really. First she lobbied for the money and the bridge and abandonned the BRIDGE project when Congress said she couldn't use the money on such a wasteful thing, but she did take the money. So she lied about both the bridge and taking the money. The there was her response to the results of the Troopergate investigation. She blithely announced to reporters that she has been cleared of all wrongdoing. Well, no, not really. The investigators decided that while the firing of Mr. Monegan was technically not illegal, but that she had "unlawfully abused her power" in violation of state law. There are other ethical issues, including use of public funds, which are still under investigation. But enough about Mrs. Palin, whose foreign policy experience equals mine since we both live in states that border foreign countries. Maybe I should run.
But let's look at some of Mr. McCain's own affiliations. Recently it came out that one of his lobbyist campaign managers did public relations work for Saddam Hussein. Using his campaign's litmus test for patriotism and judgment, is he qualified? Then there's his friendship with and appearances on the radio talk show of one G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate burgler who had laid plans break into offices, commit murder and possibly fire bomb a building... and who currently advises is listeners to shoot Federal Marshalls in the head. Here's some information on this connection. And another article by Carl Bernstein. Unlike Mr. Obama, who has renounced the crimes Ayers committed when he (Obama) was 8. Read the two articles I posted. Mr. McCain seems comfortable with his terrorist friend who is actively inciting others to violence right now today. But I rant.
Let's look at the question of ACORN - a 38-year old organization which has worked tirelessly to register and enfranchise the poor - but which according to Mr. McCain, is "destroying the fabric of democracy." ACORN pays the poor to register people and sometimes their volunteers get over enthusiastic and cheat so they will get more money. ACORN monitors this as well as they can, turning in anyone they catch cheating and flagging fake or suspicious forms. They are required by law to submit any registrations turned in, whether they are bogus or not. Fake registrations are a headache but they are not a threat to democracy unless someone tries to vote. It would be illogical and self-defeating for ACORN to submit hundreds of very obviously fraudulent forms. They have been in operation for 38 years. They are not stupid. Where is Mr. McCain's concern about the Diebold machines and the efforts of members of his party to disenfranchise voters using a variety of dirty tricks. Unused fake registratios don't threaten the vote. Preventing qualified voters from casting their ballots and rigging voting machines does. That's where the threat to democracy lies. Mr. McCain isn't concerned about that because it works in his favor. I don't for a minute believe that he actually thinks ACORN is a threat either... or that he thinks Barack Obama has secret terrorist leanings. But he wants to be elected so badly that he's willing to slander his opponent and feed the fears of his most ignorant followers. But I rant yet again. I'm really trying not to but it isn't easy. Dishonesty and slander piss me off big time. But let's move on.
The Maverick Brand - Well, there was a time when Mr. McCain was something of a maverick, although something of a one-note maverick. After his involvement in the Keating Five scandal he got a bit of religion on certain campaign spending issues. It got him a reputation for being a maverick which he is clearly very proud of. It seems to be pretty much the only issue on which he is a maverick, though. He stood by Bush on 90 or more percent of budget votes and with rare exceptions on most issues regarding the invasion of Iraq and the execution of the war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Not so much a maverick there. The man who allegedly hates lobbyists has a campaign which is largely run by them. He made friends with a man who slandered him 8 years ago in their competition for the presidency and has hired onto his own team the same men he excoriated then. I don't know if I'd call that being a maverick. Nor do I think that bucking the crowd just because is necessarily a virtue. Then there's the question of what is it your maverick-ness stands for. Are you fighting for what's right or for the wrong thing? In Mr. McCain's case, I'd say much of the time - except on his one issue - he has fought for the wrong side. And I've read that he and his lobbyist advisors have found every loophole they can in the ethics laws he is so proud of. Uh... is that mavericky of him? Or is it a betrayal of his own pet cause.
Ok... now let's talk about taxes. Another lie mantra from the McCain camp. "Obama is going to raise your taxes." Well, he's going to raise McCain's taxes but not the taxes of the bulk of the population. Mr. McCain knows this but keeps repeating his lie over and over. Mr. McCain is a trickle-down guy. Trickle down is a bit like Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake." Leaves the poor starving and the rich well fed. But I said I wasn't going to talk about issues and this is already really long and I've said my piece on taxes way back when here.
There was something really odd that I haven't heard mentioned much in last night's debate. It's a petty thing, yet seems significant also. Mr. McCain twice mentioned Mrs. Palin's autistic child and what a gift this makes her to parents. But Mrs. Palin's son isn't autistic - or if he is, he's too young to have been diagnosed. He has Down Syndrome. She does have a nephew with autism. Perhaps that's what he was referring to. Her record - and McCain's - on their compassion for the parents of such children, well...
Then there was Mr. McCain's distortion - of Obama's record on abortion. Obama corrected that. As for military spending, did Mrs. McCain get the same "cold chill down her spine" when her husband also voted against the same bill in a different form? Or was it ok when her husband did it?
Ach, I'm ranting again. There's more and more, but I think I've rattled on for too long as it is.
But, presumably you may see a pattern here and it's not a nice one. It's a comfort with not just exaggerating - I don't like that either and Democrats are as guilty as anyone of doing it - but of flat out lies and - worse... way worse... of slander and hate mongering lies. We have had 8 years of lies and fear mongering. Eight years. As a result of that we are an unhappy, divided nation, disliked across the world, involved in two wars, one of which we were deceived into. As a result, we have had our justice system perverted, we have spied on our own citizens, we have thrown the Constitution in the dumper, our government has allowed and condoned torture, we are trillions of dollars in debt and hanging over a financial abyss. Lies and fears have not served us well. Mr. McCain may think he isn't Bush, but he has voted with him and supported his wrong-headed policies. He opposed him on torture briefly but then backed off on that. Sadder still, he has given over whatever ethics he might once have propelled himself by and put himself into the hands of Bush's "handlers."
It has been fascinating over the course of this campaign to listen as McCain makes accusations about Obama which are actually direct statements about what he and his own campaign have been doing. It is as though he is projecting is own sins onto his opponent. Watching him twitch and blink and grimace with seeming anger and barely concealed disdain during the debates, I can't help but wonder who it is he is really angry with. Whether it is Mr. Obama or himself, he seems ill equipped in the areas of judgment, honesty and temperament to hold such high office in such dangerous and uncertain times.
Took me a long time to get even this much written down. I'm not going to proofread.