Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats’.
– Rick Davis, McCain campaign manager, 3/11/08
This is getting really disturbing. Every day, John McCain and Sarah Palin stir up more and more violent hatred at their public appearances. As they hammer relentlessly at Obama’s supposed connection with William Ayers, their audiences shout "Socialist!", "Kill him!", "Traitor!", "Treason!", "Terrorist!", "Off with his head!", and "Bomb Obama!" (that last one was actually at a Saxby Chambliss rally, but it’s part of the same trend).
For the most part, both candidates have completely ignored these yawps from the Republican id, with McCain making pleas for decency only in response to direct questions… and getting booed by his own supporters when he does. The Republican base is getting bolder and meaner, and McCain and Palin are either deliberately inflaming the situation, or have lost control of it, afraid to antagonize their own mob.
I’m betting on the former, but it’s a strategy that plays very badly with the non-crazy, non-base, non-racist demographic. Are the McCainiacs really betting that more than 50% of American voters are not only racist, but so racist that they’re willing to overlook the Epic Fail that is modern conservatism?
McCain’s playing-with-fire campaign isn’t just immoral, it’s self-destructive. The Republican Party’s brand is already associated with corruption, incompetence, torture and war; exposing its angry eliminationist underbelly will poison it even more. It could make the difference between losing "only" six Senate seats, and losing eleven or twelve… and God only knows how many in the House.
And it’s only going to get worse. The pressure is building, and I think it’s going to boil over before the election. I don’t know what form the explosion will take, but it will be something so gut-punch monstrous that it shocks and appalls everyone but the diehard crazies. I’m desperately hoping that it will be "merely" ugly and not tragic – that McCain and the Republicans are the only ones who get hurt, and only figuratively.
John McCain cannot deny responsibility for the scary turn his campaign has taken since Rick Davis’s long-forgotten memo. He could have fired Steve Schmidt at any time, and he hasn’t. Senator Honor & Courage is either perfectly content to roll in the gutter, too out-of-touch to realize that he’s in the gutter, or too weak to stand up to a subordinate. Not exactly character traits Americans look for in a Commander-In-Chief.