John McCain gave a stirring speech last night, and if that was all I had to go by, then my vote might be in the 'undecided' column again. But it's not. He wasn't the cherry on top of the sundae so much as the strawberry on top of the gore. My allusions getting to you? A bit too allusive? Okay, let me clarify.
McCain promised last night to take on the people in his party who had failed the American people and betrayed Republican principles. That would be the people in his party who were speaking before him. Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina: Fat Cats One and Two, spewing the party line as if the economic state of our nation was a figment of Democrats imaginations. I had to laugh when Carly vowed to post every pro-people move that McCain made on the internet for every American to see. Well, every American who has ready access to computers--and that would be how many? and of what socio-economic class?
And Mitt Romney, who recited a litany of the sins of liberals in Washington, as if the Republicans were poor weak bystanders the past eight years. The Republicans, he said, "are the party of big ideas, not Big Brother." Obviously Mitt never read the book, 1984, because Big Brother was a spy system pretty damn close to the one the Republicans have been insisting we need to protect us from evil, so that comment of his is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. As is this one: "We prefer straight talk to politically correct talk..." I call politically correct talk speech of any stripe that seeks to enforce a moral code. Like all of Romney's blather about Family Values, which are just his religious beliefs and not, he should know, mine or the Founders of our nation. I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on old Mitt and Carly and Meg. They are, after all, running for office. We don't have to wait till February 2009 for the next election cycle to begin; it's underway right now.
And then there was Mike Huckabee, the only Republican, save McCain, to have the balls to say something positive about Obama. But then he went off into some Cold War fantasy world. Obama went to Europe and "brought back European ideas, like big government." Whereas he, Huckabee, was raised in a place where "the three heroes were Jesus, Elvis, and FDR." FDR--wasn't he the guy who was the bete noire of the Republican party? Didn't he institute all those New Deal policies the Republicans hate?
Can you tell that I was taking notes when I listened to the speeches? It was the only way I could listen without exploding. And I was determined to listen: I believe it is my duty as an American citizen to have some background, not to mention integrity when I speak. Which is more than can be said for many of the speechifiers on Wednesday night. I gave up my note-taking soon after Rudy Guiliani began talking. Here's what I wrote when I quit: "This is all about appeasing the Republican base. There is so much bullshit in this speech, I can't listen." And Palin was just more of the same, although quite a bit better at delivery than any of the others at the podium. Someone asked me what I thought of her, and I said, "She gives good speech, and I mean that with all of the Hollywood implications intact."
So this is what I'm saying to John McCain. I like you. I think you're honest, as much as any of us are. I believe your intentions are honorable, as much as those of anyone who seeks political power are. I don't care that you're 72. I'm even willing to overlook that you're anti-choice and anti-gay marriage, since I believe that your honesty and integrity would lead you to protect our Constitution and not use it as a cudgel for your religious beliefs. What I cannot overlook is that you have surrounded yourself with the lowest of the low. They are the very "do-nothing, me-first, country-second Washington crowd" that you castigated in your speech. You cannot hope to build a bi-partisan consensus with people who think it is funny to mock those who don't agree with them. Watching your convention, the one at which you ostensibly took the reins of your party, I felt like I was in the stands at some Medieval blowout for the hoi polloi. When it was all over, I actually felt somewhat dirty, besmirched by the rabid crowd who were gulping down the red meat whole. Red meat--that's what is thrown to carnivores at feeding time.
So I will not be voting for you, John McCain. You lost your chance to win me over, and you did it not by what you said or didn't say, but by the company you keep. You may be honest and trustworthy, but the people surrounding you are anything but. You must know that, but you never trusted that you could actually win this thing on your own, did you? Watching you and Joe Lieberman up on the stage during your run-through, I couldn't help but think: an Independent party, the end of bi-partisanship. Too bad you didn't have the courage to try. And what I said the other day, I'll say again. In fact, I may have it printed on T-shirts and done up as buttons: John McCain--the Hanoi Hilton didn't break him; the Republican party did.