The McCain Leadership Test

05/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The road to the Democratic convention has become less of a road and more of a deadly obstacle course. The Democratic candidates have been put through their paces and have been challenged to show their perseverance and political skill.

While the Democrats have been tested in a game drawing a level of national attention that rivals America's addiction to the most viciously intimate reality shows, John McCain has not been pressured at all.

In fact, there have been no big tests for the man who wishes to lead the US at one of the most critical times in its history. The tests are there to be taken but like a lazy college frat boy, McCain slides past the quizzes hoping to get a passing grade on the big final.

Recently, a new test of McCain's leadership has emerged. Rush Limbaugh, lead propagandist of the right, has made it clear that the objective of his newest media project "Operation Chaos" is to create riot conditions in Denver at the Democratic convention. The statement has been denounced by Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) and a host of local leaders. Local leaders in fact continued to be incensed over the weekend, which is not good for the GOP considering the swing-state status of Colorado. Yet, John McCain remains silent.

John McCain has positioned himself as a moderate Republican and has promised "maverick" leadership. If McCain is truly not beholden to the divisive ugly side of GOP politics, here is his moment to make that clear. John McCain should denounce the words of Rush Limbaugh quickly and immediately.

This is not a huge test for McCain; in fact, it is a low bar for him to meet. First and foremost, the idea that the leader of the right wing rhetoric factory has designed a project whose objective is to foment riot conditions is, or should be, easy to denounce. The McCain leadership test is clearly simple if you believe the narrative that has been built on the Right. The narrative of the recent conservative folklore tells us that Rush dislikes and/or hates McCain. Well I don't believe that fairy tale, but let me buy in for a moment. If the story about the McCain/Limbaugh rivalry is true, then it should be easy for McCain to denounce a political enemy for comments that clearly tear at America's democracy at the most basic structural level.

The next defense of Rush (and excuse for McCain's silence) is that Limbaugh is the crazy old uncle of the Right. Rush is depicted as a cranky senile elder who rattles around in the attic in between "golf vacations" to the Dominican Republic. If you believe the premise that Rush has lost influence over the GOP, then once again he is an easy target for McCain. What can be easier then denouncing a man whose influence is on the wane?

The bar here is so low that one must wonder why McCain remains silent. The man who would lead the world against al-Qaida could certainly take on a man of no influence who hates him anyway, right?

So, let's give McCain his first leadership test of the campaign trail. Let's call and write his campaign and ask him to denounce Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos." It is a small leadership test that certainly a man who would lead the United States of America can meet.

Click here for info on how to contact the McCain campaign

Mario Solis-Marich hosts a progressive talk radio show that can be heard on AM 760 in Denver. The show can also be streamed at