The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

John McCain is Selling His Soul

Posted by sarjonycwit on October 10, 2008

In an election season that seemed to promise two intriguing candidates, little has been more disappointing than watching clips from the Republican candidates’ recent speeches.  John McCain and Sarah Palin, instead of engaging Americans on the issues, are trying to depict Barack Obama as a strange and dangerous unknown, a man who does not share American values, a man whose motives and patriotism should be questioned.  What’s most disappointing about the attacks is that they are completely disingenuous.  In another context (one in which it would be politically expedient), McCain would be perfectly comfortable praising Obama’s service and dedication.

It would be easy to write off this nasty tactic as “politics as usual,” except that the strength of John McCain’s candidacy rested on a departure from politics as usual.  Here I’m not referring to McCain’s empty and harmless claim to being a “maverick”—what could be less maverick-like than having carefully scripted speeches in which you declare, “I’m a maverick!”—but to the fact that McCain was perceived by both the press and politicians from both major parties as a man of real integrity.  And now, instead of trying to win by presenting the truth—after all, McCain presumably still does believe he is the better candidate—he is stooping to the kind of techniques that, yes, have gotten Republicans elected in the past, but have smeared the reputations of respectable people in the process.

Certainly McCain is now employing the same techniques George W. Bush used to defeat him in the primaries prior to his election as president, and in many circles this is sufficient reason for McCain to turn to them now.  It seems to me just the opposite.  Why did McCain not learn that slander and untrue allegations diminish our national political dialogue (as well as the people who spread it), much as his experience of torture taught him that the use of certain techniques makes us less human, regardless of its effectiveness?

The irony is that the Democrats owe their lead in the election in part to taking just the opposite tack.  In past elections, Republicans have used their superiority in capturing complex concepts in brief, biased phrases to win over voters.  To this day, basic values like God, family, and patriotism belong to the Republican camp, often implicitly representing socially conservative ideas like religious fundamentalism, traditional notions of marriage, and blind support of not just soldiers, but high-level military decisions.  In this election, the Democrats seem to have finally found a tactic that is similarly low in content but high in effectiveness.  That tactic is civility.  In the first presidential debate (and the one most citizens actually watched), McCain repeatedly used the phrase, “What Senator Obama doesn’t understand…” while Obama repeatedly said, “John is right about…”  The result was that McCain often came across as angry and frustrated, while Obama came across as relaxed and generous.  In the Vice Presidential debate, which was quite the pop-culture affair, Joe Biden declined to attack arguably the most assailable candidate of our lifetimes.  While Sarah Palin openly avoided questions and presented canned statements off of index cards, Biden respectfully presented his views, making no comment on her qualifications or previous record.  When she directly attacked him, he smiled—and he did so, though no one knows how, with apparent sincerity.

Perhaps we shouldn’t give the Democrats too much credit.  Even before the first presidential debate, it seemed that Obama and Biden might have an advantage.  Perhaps civility and “do no harm” are simply the obvious tactics for the leaders, while sniping and character attacks are better approaches for those who trail.  Still, it does seem that a man with a long reputation for integrity like John McCain owes himself something better.  Rather than using subtle fears of foreigners, dark skin tones, strange religions, overeducated people, and diverse backgrounds, wouldn’t it be more effective for McCain to stand up and say, “I respect Barack Obama.  He is a good man and a good candidate.  He is a true American, and he has your best interests in mind as much as any other politician out there.  But I believe he is the wrong candidate for our country right now, and I’ll tell you why…”


9 Responses to “John McCain is Selling His Soul”

  1. Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. honeycat22 said

    On the soul-less would make determination on the state on another person’s soul. That is up to God.

  4. NickatinA said

    “On[ly] the soul-less would make determination[s] on the state [of] another person’s soul. That is up to God.”

    What happens if one doesn’t believe in God? If that’s the case, is one then able to pass judgment on another’s soul? I would like to know if an Atheist can safely pass judgment on another’s soul. Moreover, why does one necessarily have to lack a soul to pass judgment on the “state” of another person’s soul? Wouldn’t an individual with an ascertainable “soul”–with firsthand knowledge of what to look for–be better equipped at assessing the merits of another’s soul?

    “you’ll find my baby picture in modern dictionaries…next to mighty mercenaries and visual visionaries..and sexy freaks sippin’ strawberries…I represent my mind in the 415 dime..trying to stop mine is like tryin’ to stop crime…I floats like an eagle that soars through the sky..and hits the murder scene in the perfect disguise…my rap world…hit 65 girls…playboy shores..right before the Rap World…LA, LA LA LA LA LA LA LA, LA, LA LA LA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAA”

  5. honeycat22 said

    Crapola la la la. You have a soul whether you acknowledge it or not. Only God can pass that judgement – no person on earth should make statements on someone selling their soul.

    You’re born with a soul and you’ll have it til you die, if you don’t accept Jesus on you’re deathbed you’ll cry. Forgive me Lord, I’ve sinned in this live, it wasn’t my fault it was temptation and strive. Because Jesus died on the cross for you and for me, he’ll allow you into heaven and so let it be.

  6. jonsd said

    “Selling His Soul” was meant as an expression, not a literal declaration. For those that prefer literal statements to metaphors, what I meant is that it appears that John McCain is letting go of his cherished personal ideals in order to achieve an objective. Of course, the nature of that objective–to be elected President–is such that we would be better served by a candidate who can maintain high personal ideals.

  7. honeycat22 said

    Like all of those wonderful people he associates himself with who love our country? Yes, he is really maintaining high personal ideals. I’ll be so proud (not).

  8. brightcoast said

    Because Obama clearly associates himself with the people McCain’s campaign accuses him of right? I mean I know someone who commited an act of civil disobedience when I was 8 years old became my BFF later on in life even though I only saw them like 1 time …

    I’ll reserve “judgment” on the statement that Jesus is the only way to “salvation.”

  9. NickatinA said

    Palincat22, not to belabor the question, but can you provide any specific examples for those of us that aren’t so sure that God is the only one capable of passing judgment?

    “nickatina been at it since 11…got me a place up in gang bang momma used to say I was a little reverend”

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