Years back, I got my first big promotion, recommended by my wildly-temperamental boss. Weeks later, he stormed into my office, spewing profanity; he wanted me fired. Though he apologized days after, I was upset but conflicted, since I owed my job to him. In my father's Midwestern good sense, he gave me advice I've remembered - "When somebody says they want you fired, you don't owe them any loyalty."
I've thought of my father's wise words recently The reason is John McCain.
When discussing John McCain, you begin with "noble," "heroic" and "honor." And then add "beyond admiration." John McCain did something most people couldn't even dream of doing. Myself included. His actions 40 years ago define virtue.
But when somebody chooses to jeopardize the safety of his country, twice, you no longer owe him any admiration.
The first and most obvious is ever-present at his side. John McCain can try to contend he always puts America first, but in no rational world is there a rational argument where Sarah Palin can be rationally seen as anything but putting America at risk.
There's little need to repeat the many reasons the American public has made Sarah Palin a laughingstock and given her a negative favorability rating. She showed why all on her own when she finally gave a few vacuous minutes to Katie Couric and Charles Gibson. Claiming that she has foreign policy expertise because her state is close to Russia got a nation to cringe.
(Side note: Anchorage to Moscow is actually 5,200 miles. That's the same distance as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Guinea on the West African coast.)
Knowing that he's 72 years old dealing with what was a serious case of melanoma, John McCain's first act as the Republican presidential nominee was to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat from becoming president.
Just 21 months ago, Sarah Palin was in a job that elected her with 616 votes. She's had hands laid on her by a preacher intoning against the spirit of witchcraft. She gave a welcoming speech to the political party that wants to secede from the United States.
And John McCain named her to be a heartbeat from the presidency.
John McCain knows that America is involved in two active wars. He knows that a third war is possible. He knows that America has long been in economic peril.
And yet with America facing grave crises, John McCain knowingly chose to pander to his party's base, and named the most frighteningly-unqualified person ever nominated by a major party to be a heartbeat from being president. In the one job where you must consider country only, he didn't.
That alone is disgraceful enough..
But John McCain has equaled this act of dishonor by his campaign's attempts to demonize his opponent in ways that are reprehensible.
We've seen the radical far right whipped into a fury that finally spilled over the past week. Angst-ridden Republicans crying out "traitor," "treason," "kill him," "off with his head" - and no doubt more - about John McCain's opponent. Literally begging in fear for John McCain to get even more aggressive. Pleading because the McCain campaign has been daily pushing them to.
And the reality is that John McCain knows it's disgraceful. We know this because when meeting Barack Obama face-to-face in debate, he didn't utter a word about a man his campaign has been hinting is traitorous to America.
And we know John McCain doesn't believe his campaign's smears because he finally said so. Because John McCain had to tell his town hall mob that Barack Obama was decent, a family man, and people shouldn't be scared of him. Because John McCain had to take the microphone back from another fevered supporter and explain that Barack Obama was, in fact, a citizen and decent, not an "Arab."
And he got booed for all this. Booed by his supporters. Booed by the furious mob he and his running mate had been whipping up.
Watching John McCain's face as that agitated lady says the word, "Arab," it's as if he is looking in a mirror and seeing himself. It is an expression of realization that he's dug himself into this horrible hole. Because he knows all his supporters have been following his lead.
But the very worst thing about this all is that it doesn't stop with the election.
John McCain knows that the only reason his campaign has been making these disgraceful smears is because he's far behind. Which means he knows that Barack Obama may likely become President of the United States.
And yet John McCain disingenuously chose to whip up his Republican far right base into thinking the future president may be a foreign terrorist. These aren't attitudes that disappear when the election ends. These are attitudes of ignorant fear that are sowed deep into the consciousness, which will only linger through an Obama Administration and create a bitter, deep, national divide. All of which, knowing it's not true, John McCain intentionally created.
So much for him being able to work across the aisle...
Make no mistake, John McCain's effort to quiet his mob was no thoughtful act. John McCain knew he had pandered so shamelessly that he had to protect himself so his soul doesn't go to hell.
John McCain has a noble past 40 years ago. But when somebody decides to disgrace their country and put it at risk, you no longer owe them any admiration. When someone does it twice, the deserve all the dishonor they have earned for themselves.