Oops—must have excited the wrong base....
In the face of boorish, booing "supporters" in Minnesota, Senator John McCain proved he still has some shreds of his honor intact.
When one man said he was scared to raise his unborn child under a President Barack Obama, Senator McCain said of Senator Obama, "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as President of the United States." McCain drew angry hoots and catcalls from his audience, but he defended Obama anyway.
When local McCain campaign volunteer Gayle Quinnell* said she can't trust Obama because "he's an Arab," McCain took the microphone away from her and said, "No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, a citizen who I just happen to have serious differences with on fundamental questions" (as if Arabs can't also be decent family men?).
See for yourself—here's video of the town hall meeting in Lakeville, Minnesota, on Friday, October 10, 2008:
Senator McCain is seeing firsthand the anger, the delusions, and even (dare I say it, Dr. Newquist?) the fascist tendencies that his own Rove-Atwater tacticians have helped unleash. And in Senator McCain's response, I see—I want to see—a man who is realizing that winning an election is not worth losing one's honor... or destroying another's honor.
At the very least, Senator McCain may be looking out into those angry crowds and realizing those people don't support him; they just oppose Barack Obama. And having a bunch of people who hate the other guy might help you win the election (though it didn't work for Kerry in 2004), but those people won't help you govern. Once they've beaten their boogeyman on Election Day, they quit. They won't give you a mandate. They won't rally to support your efforts to reform government and forge new policies. Those spiteful voters are about personal destruction, not constructive policy-making... and John McCain may be realizing that those "supporters" make up far too large a portion of his dwindling base.
I still have serious differences with Senator McCain on fundamental questions, and we should still hold him responsible for the harmful tactics of his campaign. But I respect his brave service to his country, and Friday, he performed another brave patriotic service, defending a fellow Senator—a fellow American—from the unjust attacks of a hostile crowd.
p.s.: My Sunday fantasy: Senator McCain goes back to his maverick roots. He suspends his campaign—for good. He goes on David Letterman's show, fills out his absentee ballot on camera, and votes for Barack Obama. President Obama appoints Senator McCain Secretary of Defense... and on January 20, 2009, issues a pre-emptive pardon to Governor Sarah Palin.
*After the rally, Quinnell rejected McCain's defense, insisting Obama is "a Muslim and a terrorist."
Update 15:05 CDT: see similar sentiments from the judiciously undecided Mr. Woster at Mt. Blogmore.
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