Civil rights icon and Democratic congressman John Lewis called out John McCain on Saturday for setting the tone and allowing his campaign rallies to descend into despicable hate-fests. "Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse," he wrote in the "Arena" comment area on the Politico site. Comparing the impact of McCain’s recent acceleration of the politics of personal destruction to that of southern demagogue George Wallace in ‘68 and ‘72, Lewis said the doomed Republican ticket was "playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all."
McCain responded to Lewis’ broadside by saying the comments were "shocking and beyond the pale" and calling for Obama to repudiate the remarks. I don’t think he has done so, nor should he. Despite his pitiful efforts yesterday to lecture the hotter heads at his rallies, McCain is reaping exactly what he has sowed. His support in the polls and the electoral college cratering since his erratic antics in the early days of the financial crisis, McCain turned to the kind of desperate tactics that can only inspire desperate men. He asked for it, he got it, and now he’s pretending to be surprised and concerned about it. He made his bed, rolled around in it with the worst sort of charlatans and fools on the far-right, and now he has to sleep in it, bed-spooning with the Limbaughs and Hannitys of his rented, putrid world.
We saw the ugliness first-hand right here in metro Milwaukee, where McCain and Palin made an appearance on Thursday. The right-wing crowd treated national visitors to good, old-fashioned Wisconsin hospitality by swearing and giving the finger to the traveling press corps. Some guy got up and was wildly cheered for squawking about the "socialist" Obama. "So go get him," he growled, the veins bulging from his neck. Part-time radio clown James T. Harris gave McCain permission, apparently on behalf of all similarly deluded black guys, to "take it to" the first African-American nominee of a major party. Harris, who can’t be called a sell out because he never had any convictions to sell out in the first place, was rewarded with a handshake from McCain and he decided to raise the cringe factor even further by kissing Palin’s hand.
"I got the message," said the smiling McCain, as he happily accepted the hateful passion of the engorged masses. Other places last week, similarly overheated crowds have called Obama a terrorist and yelled out "kill him." All in a days work for the man from Arizona, whose only question for his handlers since he nailed down his dying party’s nomination was "Is that what you wanted? How am I doing?"
The stage for all this was set not so much by McCain, but by right-wing mainstream radio, which has poisoned the political environment by universally treating an Obama presidency as not just unwanted, but as outright unacceptable. Obama has been regularly called dangerous to national security, a traitor to his country, a socialist and a radical extremist. What else is a god-fearing right-winger supposed to feel other than hate and contempt for the guy? Why would they allow for him to take office without a fight – and I don’t mean electoral. Ever since America started settling on Obama a couple of weeks ago, the desperate McCain decided to get in the gutter with the rest of the clowns and make it personal. He didn’t create the situation, but now he’s opened the door. What did he think was going to happen when the official campaign finally gave its imprimatur to this kind of garbage?
How bad is it? Well, right-wingers love to point to anonymous comments made in left-wing blogs to show how wack the left is. Let me turn that tactic on its head for a moment and point to one comment made on a left-wing blog: Mine. Here’s a comment (since deleted) that someone posted anonymously yesterday to my previous post:
Mike,Your an idiot and a liar, McCains was topping out all the time, Hussiens was less than flat. You heard it hear first. The October surprise that I am predicting this year is that someone (not ME LMAO) will assasinate the dumb socialist nigger. The domestic terrorist Nobama will never assume the Presidency, even if he wins the election!!!!
Now, I don’t think this is at all representative of right-wing "thought", such as it is. This person is obviously disturbed. But this is what happens when you present a mainstream political result as unacceptable and dangerous. Stupid people start to believe it. The fact is that, if you believe the crap about Obama put out 24/7 by the national and local wing-nuts on the radio, you would be unpatriotic if you didn’t take some extra-electoral action against this result. How could you let it happen?
This is the world John McCain has bought into. He may even realize that things have gone around the bend. But he can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. He has already lost his soul and his hard-earned honor in this campaign. And for what? So he can make history as the worst loser in U.S. history? The old McCain deserved better. This McCain deserves nothing less.