Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain on the mat.

Why is he smiling?

As election day draws near, it becomes increasingly clear, the opposition warriors are desperate with answers eluding their grasp. Sarah's winking on her knees, her plea is quite dramatic, trying anything to please, how far will this desperation grow? Despite frenzied visions of racial fistfights, the robocalls fomenting fear, percentages slip away, far greater fears are holding sway. The nations votes turning blue in an historic and significant way.

The battle is lost, why is he smiling?

People say John McCain is an honorable man, his opponents say this is so. I won't argue, being human, we are allowed our mistakes and disagreements. Yet I have been perplexed, with the apparent changes in McCain I have seen. It's not a question of his personality but of his positions. Drifting to the right, towards an unsettling alliance with the political extremes voiced by those in his own party responsible for their reprehensible behavior in opposition to his previous attempt for a presidential nomination. I question why? Why is this happening? Is it raw ambition raising its ugly head for a win at any cost?

If we consider for a moment, the recent history of the Republican party and the forces it has brought to bear on McCain's political career. More specifically we must consider Karl Rove and his influence on the Republican party.

Ron Suskind, in an article in the January 2003 issue of Esquire wrote,
"It’s an amazing moment," said one senior White House official early on the morning after. "Karl just went from prime minister to king. Amazing . . . and a little scary. Now no one will speak candidly about him or take him on or contradict him. Pure power, no real accountability. It’s just ‘listen to Karl and everything will work out.’. . . That may go for the president, too." [Ron Suskind] via Frank Rich of the NY Times
Karl Rove has a fascist vision for America, yes, fascist look it up, it fits just fine.
For Karl Rove, it’s all and only about winning. The rest — vision, ideology, good government, ideas to bind a nation, reasonable dissent, collegiality, mutual respect—is for later. [Ron Suskind]
Ron Suskind goes on to describes how he eventually met Carl Rove, squeezed into a chair... his back against the doorframe to Roves office.
Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. "Come on in." And I did. [Ron Suskind]
At this moment in history it should be evident that Karl Rove wielded unprecedented power within the Republican party and George W. Bush was his boy. When McCain had the gall to challenge Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, it did not set well with Karl Rove and his minions went took action to destroy John McCain.
As for the Waterloo of South Carolina, most of the facts are well-known, and among this group of Republicans, what happened has taken on the air of an unsolved crime, a cold case, with Karl Rove being the prime suspect. Bush loyalists, maybe working for the campaign, maybe just representing its interests, claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone "push polls" and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote. Now here’s the twist, the part that drives McCain admirers insane to this very day: That last rumor took seed because the McCains had done an especially admirable thing. Years back they’d adopted a baby from a Mother Teresa orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget, now eleven years old, waved along with the rest of the McCain brood from stages across the state, a dark-skinned child inadvertently providing a photo op for slander. The attacks were of a level and vitriol that even McCain, who was regularly beaten in captivity, could not ignore. [Ron Suskind]
If we delve into the Machiavellian machinations behind McCain's loss of the 2000 Republication nomination, who were his advisors at that time and how do they fit into the picture today?

Again Ron Suskind provides us with an interesting answer
And someone points to a guy in the room—yeah, him over there near the curtains, tall, friendly-looking guy named John Weaver. He was the other genius wunderkind in Texas in the 1980s, along with Rove. They won campaigns left and right, those two.[Ron Suskind]
John Weaver was McCain’s political director in his bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. Adding to the complexity of the story, one might say melodrama, John and Karl had a falling out in 1998 and had become adversaries.
Weaver gets asked about Rove quite often; people know about their history. He always demurs. "Not worth getting into," he says. People around him, though, will talk. "John will never work in the Republican party again, thanks to Karl," says Salter. Weaver now works for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It’s commonly held that Rove ran him out of the party. The word went out: Any Republican who hired Weaver would be held in disfavor by the president. "What can I say?" Weaver says quietly. "Like me, all the moderate Republicans have been run out of the party by the Right. I’m doing what I’ve always done politically; these guys just call themselves Democrats now."[Ron Suskind]
At this point the power and viciousness demonstrated by Karl Rove in his attempt to guide the Republican party towards a position of absolute power should be apparent. Further, I took notice of how Karl Rove used this power without the pretense of any morality, through the use of unquestionably despicable lies about John McCain's family in order to shade the vote in South Carolina enough to give George W. Bush the edge leading to his nomination.

It was Karl Rove committing character assassination with words in place of a bullet, John McCain must have been both deeply hurt and furious. Revenge was in order.

If we pause to consider John McCain's background a bit we will recall that he was a POW. Forty years ago in the midst of the Vietnam War, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent the next five and a half years in captivity. I cannot begin to understand what these years must have been like for McCain. There is a very long reprint of his story which originally appeared in the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S.News & World Report. I haven't yet finished reading this, it's quite long. I would like to speculate that over five years in captivity gives one a different sense of time, and time to reflect on what is really important in ones life. One of these is family, including comrades in combat and it is clear that Karl Rove violated something which was personally dear to John McCain, something which sustained him through those five years of captivity.

John McCain set out to even the score with Karl Rove faction of the Republican party. Those five and a half years in a Vietnamese prison must have given John McCain resolve and patience, he was a survivor. With forethought, he ignored the 2004 election and was written off as a future candidate. None the less, he started to ally himself closer to the Rove Republican party and succeeded in winning the Republican nomination. Truly the comeback kid, but a kid with an agenda.

When it was time to choose the vice-presidential candidate, John McCain wanted Joe Lieberman who was obviously unacceptable to the conservatives and a pariah to the Democrats. Karl wanted Mitt Romney who was rejected by McCain. To the enduring surprise of all the two finally settled on Sarah Palin the Alaska governor who is an expert on the oil industry and Russian politics.

Now anybody who has ever paid much attention to US politics will have noticed that being President of the United States takes it's toll on the man. John McCain must be aware of this, he is 71 and selecting a younger running mate makes considerable sense, Sarah Palin fits the bill, she's young, she's pretty, and she's totally unqualified to be President of the United States. John must have been secretly smiling when Karl took the bait.

With an eminently unsuitable, inexperienced and unqualified running mate, John McCain electrified the Karl Rove party for a few weeks. Politically Sarah was so far to the right she had to telephone her left hand to wipe her ass. I guess the Christian conservatives were encouraged until they heard about her in a bit more detail. Never the less, for awhile there, the Republicans had a few days of "feel good" but it failed to last as the horror of a world wide financial collapse threw the Republican election chances into complete disarray.

And, John McCain blinks at us from the mat, smiling and victorious.

Patience is often its own reward and I believe that John McCain patience is about to be rewarded. His goal was to beat the most powerful Republican insider at his own game, and to help elect the first black president in the history of the United States.

The magnitude of this defeat will go down in political history along with the failure of the George W. Bush administration.