The McCain campaign is all set to roll out its message for the last 30 days of the campaign: "We may not be good for your bank account, your mortgage, your health care, or your job security -- but none of that will matter if you are dead. John McCain: If You Want to Live."
It's coming a little earlier than expected, but with an imploding economy and no solutions from the McCain camp other than yet another round of tax cuts, Team McCain is hitting the GOP's default key: Be Very Afraid!
The title of McCain's latest TV ad says it all: "Dangerous." The ad brands Obama as "dishonorable," "dangerous," and "too risky for America." That's right, folks, it time to appeal to the voters' Lizard Brains.
For the moment, McCain is allowing his high-sticking hockey mom to lead the fear-mongering parade, accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and not seeing America "like you and I see America." For bad measure, Palin also teamed up with her mentor Bill "Henry Higgins" Kristol to re-pry the manhole cover off the Jeremiah Wright sewer.
But Palin's Alaska crude will soon be mixed with McCain's own Maverick mud. At a Colorado town hall last Thursday, McCain was asked, "When are you going to take the gloves off?" His grinning reply: "How about Tuesday night?" So how long into Debate II do you think it will be before McCain brings up Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, or Tony Rezko?
Clearly, McCain has concluded that the only way he can get enough votes is to pay for them with his once-valued dignity and honor. And it appears he's not planning to leave any of that precious personal capital in the bank by the time election day rolls around.
So here it comes. One last desperate, pathetic, sordid attempt to distract the country from anything resembling a real debate about a real issue. Don't have health care? Rezko, Rezko, Rezko. Wonder why our financial system is on the brink of collapse? Ayers, Ayers, Ayers. Worried about whether we'll ever get out of Iraq? Wright, Wright, Wright.
Much to Karl Rove's chagrin, those around McCain have been very upfront about the campaign's intentions. "There's no question that we have to change the subject here," a senior Republican operative told the Washington Post. McCain adviser Greg Strimple cut to the chase, saying the campaign is "looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis." Yeah, who wants to read any more of those boring old stories about foreclosures, job losses, and the market losing another 500 points, especially when there are so many more urgent things to talk about -- like why Barack Obama wants to let his terrorist pals blow us all up?
McCain and his hatchet mom VP nominee are hoping to expose the "real" Barack Obama to the people of America; but what they are really exposing is how morally corrupt McCain has become. And how complete has been his transformation from a noble reformer, willing to stand up to his own party when it failed to meet his moral code, into an ignoble hack, willing to abandon his most deeply held values in his lust for the presidency.
"Sooner or later people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future, or you're not ready to articulate it."
That was John McCain in 2000, commenting on the disgusting attacks against him by Karl Rove, George Bush, and a few of the people now doing their very dirty work for him.
Wise words from a man who doesn't exist anymore. To paraphrase the classic Hughes Mearns' poem:
"As I was walking up the stair/I met a maverick who wasn't there/He wasn't there again today/I wish, I wish he'd go away."
Making his disappearing act all the more tragic is the fact that the noble McCain is still around, lurking inside the corrupted candidate, occasionally bubbling to the surface before being shoved back into hiding by his baser instincts.
For instance, it was just this past April when McCain took a principled stand against the muck being flung at Obama over his association with Rev. Wright, saying "there's no place for that kind of campaigning, and the American people don't want it."
A little over five months, and an increasingly blue electoral map later, McCain now stands on the sidelines while Palin unabashedly gives the American people what McCain knew they don't want.
Despite its best efforts, the McCain camp's sneering attacks are not proving that Barack Obama is not like the rest of us. They are proving that John McCain is not like the rest of us. Americans are hungry for a serious conversation about the multiple crises we are facing. And by ignoring that conversation in favor of yet another round of fear-mongering, McCain is showing himself to be the candidate who is "not a man who sees America like you and I see America."
The most revealing thing about the nature of McCain's attacks isn't the contempt he has for Obama (that's been on display for a while now) -- it's the contempt he has for the country he claims to be putting first.