Let me take you back to 2000 and allow me to make a confession: I wasn't all that thrilled with Al Gore. I thought that his rejection of Clinton's offer to campaign for him was a petty move (not to mention tactically stupid). And, let's face it, this was the Al Gore before "An Inconvenient Truth": kinda bland, kinda nerdy (and not in a good way), and kinda entitled. He seemed to me to be approaching the campaign as if he had earned the presidency because he put up with Bill Clinton's shenanigans for 8 years. Perhaps my malaise was caused by other life events (my Mom dying of cancer, me engaged and undergoing a major career change), perhaps not. I was still prepared to vote for Al Gore come November (and did end up doing so) but I was keeping my eyes open for another option.
So along comes Senator John McCain. I had never heard of him before and was intrigued by this former Naval Aviator and POW. "Straight Talk Express"? Calling out the fundie freaks as "agents of intolerance"? Talking economic populism? And a Republican to boot? Wow, I was impressed. I disagreed with him a more than a few things, but I learned a long time ago that you are never going to find a candidate that matches you perfectly. I monitored his progress with great interest.
And then came the South Carolina push polling: "... the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black." (McCain adopted a child from Indonesia.) I was incensed. I understood (and still understand) that politics can be a blood sport, but going after a candidate's family is really beyond the pale. I was anticipating a heavy response from McCain; I even had one crafted in my head:
"The people who are responsible for these phone calls are cowards. They are too scared to come after me so they come after my family instead. I am calling them out for the sniveling cowards that they are; I am asking the good people of the Palmetto State to prove these cowards wrong. The United States of America is not a country of cowards -- it is a country of heroes! Heroes like the people of the great state of South Carolina!"
But that stirring response never came. Bush won South Carolina and went on to secure the nomination and the election (with a dubious assist from the Supreme Court).
Over four years later, I saw this picture:
This was taken at a Bush campaign rally. McCain hugging Bush. Disgusting.
I apologize for the language I'm about to use but I can find no other words that adequately express how I feel: John McCain is a pussy.
Anyone who embraces someone whose agents have attacked their family is not much of a man, in my opinion. Gone was the "Straight Talk Express" and in its place was "Politics as Usual". To me, McCain can no longer claim the "Straight Talk" mandate ever again.
My Christian friends will remind me that it is better to turn the other cheek. And while I agree with that sentiment, there are limits to any virtue and attacking you through your family is one of those limits for me.
I'm also certain that there is much more to the story than what I have observed. But I don't care. McCain has proven himself to be nothing more than an average conservative politician. He'll probably get the nomination this time because the other GOP candidates are too freaky for a mass audience. John McCain is just another man who wants to be president, and a lesser man at that.