John McCain is dead.
Cut down by a coward.
For years, the Senator from Arizona was a man of conviction and passion. A man who stood shoulder to shoulder with liberals and independents on key issues. A man who fought to clean up the influence of corporate money in politics, and denounced Bush's irresponsible, deficit-ballooning tax cuts in a time of war. He was the picture of service and sacrifice. He was, despite the current emptiness of the word, a maverick.
I admired him when he had the sense of humor to host Saturday Night Live. When he called out Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for the fraudulent scum they were. When he partnered with liberals like Russ Feingold to take on the influence of corporate money in politics. I admired him when he stood up to Bush's shameful race-baiting tactics in 2000. I admired him, as we all did, for his story.
But that man is gone. Poisoned by a dark reflection of himself - a Shadow McCain - born of greed, ambition, and weakness.
McCain the straight-talker slain by McCain the smear-monger. McCain the hero murdered by McCain the panderer. McCain the maverick bludgeoned by McCain the sneering, sniveling race baiter. Whored out to the very corruption he sought to drive from his party. Intoxicated by the very tactics so shamefully used against him in 2000.
How can a man with even a shred of dignity claim "Country First," when he ignores our economic crisis in favor of smearing his opponent? How can a man with even a shred of dignity ask "who is Barack Obama?" when he won't let his running mate hold a single press conference? How can the man who owns nine homes and thirteen cars call the man who was raised on food stamps an "elitist?"
All politicians are guilty of distorting facts. But this McCain - this Shadow McCain - is looking the American people in the eye and telling them outright lies. That alone should disqualify him for the highest office in the land. As should his selection of the least qualified running mate in our nation's history. As should his attempt to stir up racial tension to rescue his sagging poll numbers.
A strong leader doesn't capitulate when his staff gives terrible advice. A strong leader doesn't abandon decades of core principles for short-term gains. A strong leader doesn't inflame a crisis with knee-jerk reactions and needlessly dramatic stunts. A strong leader doesn't retreat to the refuge of character attacks when he has nothing else to say.
The John McCain you see before you is weak. Mentally, physically, and morally.
A shadow of his former self.
He's done more than destroy his brand - he's hastened the end of neoconservatism through his socialist proposals, arrogant world view, and his laughable pick of a laughable running mate. In that sense, I suppose, we owe him our thanks.
Joe Biden recently said that McCain would probably regret his attacks on Obama "for the rest of his life." I respectfully disagree.
My friends, the John McCain who would've regretted those attacks is dead.
Seth Grahame-Smith is the founder of HomelandApology.org