10/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Is No Longer A Knight-Errant, But An Errant Knight

I'll admit it. I thought about voting for John McCain. I'm a lifelong Democrat. But in 2000, if McCain had won the Republican nomination, I think I would have had a tough choice. Like many, I was charmed by McCain's personal story, his ideological independence, and willingness to say tough things, sometimes the wrong things. He was the closest thing we had to a knight-errant in American politics.

My admiration diminished for him over the years. Yet I still felt that he was an improvement over the Bush lot. His values were quite different from mine, but you couldn't doubt that his values were true.

Service, honor, integrity.

Now John McCain has shattered that chalice in search of the Holy Grail of the Presidency.

He served his nation poorly when he hastily picked a vice presidential nominee based on her symbolic power rather than her qualifications.

He sullied his honor by hiring the men who vilely attacked his character in 2000 to do the same to Barack Obama in 2008.

And now he has lost his integrity by shamelessly lying about Barack Obama.

He crossed a filthy Rubicon when he released an ad that suggested Obama supported comprehensive sexual education for kindergartens. The actual bill promoted awareness of sexual predators.

Perhaps part of the backlash against this despicable falsehood is driven by the realization that John McCain is discouraging legislators from enacting laws to protect children from sexual predators for fear of similar slander. No one in the McCain campaign had the courage to object on that basis.

Mark McKinnon quit the McCain campaign when Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination because of his respect for Senator Obama. Now we know why he felt the need to do so.

This morning, on Fox News Sunday, Karl Rove said that John McCain had gone too far. McCain should have known better than to gather that viper to his bosom.

Libertarian author Steve Chapman observed that John McCain has decided that he can't win a fact based campaign.

He has charged repeatedly that his opponent is willing to lose a war to win an election. What's McCain willing to lose to become president? Nothing so consequential as a war. Just his soul.

This is the stuff of Greek tragedy. But it will only be a national tragedy if Americans fail to reject a fallen, errant knight who is now bereft of honor.