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Mike Papantonio Headshot

Straight Talk Express is the New Hate Train

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Kill him! Off with his head! Bomb Obama! The Terrorist! Those are not the cries heard at skinhead rallies. Those are the lizard-brain rantings of a small fringe of GOP loyalists at political rallies as a hate talk express moves from one small town to the next.

I'm proud that my hometown was not a place where Sarah Palin's presence caused rally-goers to abandon their decency. There were no pitchfork-toting mobs screaming with red-faced rage when Palin came to my hometown.

But nationally, the GOP is in the midst of a meltdown that is so serious that they run the risk of branding themselves for a generation. The new brand is one that they won't be proud of. When the smell of fire and brimstone disappears at these rallies, the progress of democracy will have been set back decades. Hopefully, historians will hold the Palin fringe crowd responsible for this new violent voice. McCain is a bad choice for the presidency, but I don't believe he has the heart of a bad man.

However, the water Palin swims around in is murky and turbulent as she panders to her party's lowest nature. McCain's political experience is telling him that all of that Palin-driven rage will not save the GOP. It is likely that McCain will lose this election. At this point he knows that. But he also sees the bigger picture. He and a majority of party leadership are concerned that the reptilian Republican image that is being created by the Palin fringe could cause a catastrophe. Polls are showing that a landslide defeat for the GOP is in the works. My prediction is that the Democrats will gain eight new senate seats and as many as 25 new House seats. No desperate mobs screaming "Kill Obama" will change that. McCain has the good sense to understand that this election cycle will only be one lost battle. But he also seems to recognize that the GOP runs the risk of losing an entire war if they continue down the Palin path.

I'm old enough to remember hate politics that were brought to life in small, desperate places like Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's. I remember the faces of four young black girls who died in a Birmingham church. Hate and ignorance caused those deaths. The firebomb that killed those children was built by the same kind of hate that McCain is concerned about today.

Last week, McCain was booed by rally crowds when he tried to urge his flock to find their moral compass. As this campaign moves to a close, it is apparent that McCain sees the dangers of hate while Palin continues to develop it as big political capital.

1964 was the year Palin was born. It is also the year when a dozen Americans were murdered by thugs who despised the people they murdered simply because of race, religion, and politics. Palin tells us she reads "everything." If that is true, she should go back and read that history or at least look at the pictures that show what is possible when we are urged to despise one another.