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The state of the race they’re in

Posted: October 6, 2008 8:32 p.m.
Updated: December 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.

I have written that this national election is one of the most historic and important in modern history, and that is still true. However, recent events have conspired to turn this presidential campaign into either farce or tragedy.

The Republican Party has given us the worst president in history and now they are asking the nation to double down and put Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin in charge of the most powerful nation on Earth.

To me they are like watching an ongoing "Saturday Night Live" skit, except that the fate of the free world hangs in the balance, which mitigates some of the humor.

I had high expectations for this campaign because, like most Democrats, I always had some respect for John McCain.

I bought into the "maverick" persona he so carefully crafted, and he made Republicans angry, so he had to be doing something right.

Before the convention, he promised to wage a campaign on issues, ideas and America's future. Sadly, he has not.

In 2000 Karl Rove and his operatives destroyed him in South Carolina, conducting one of the most vicious and destructive smear campaigns since Lee Atwater took down Michael Dukakis.

They accused him of being unfit for the presidency because of his torture as a prisoner of war, they exposed his second wife Cindy's prescription drug addiction and they accused him of fathering a black child when he and Cindy had adopted a special-needs child from Bangladesh.

This affected McCain and influenced his political campaigns as he abhorred these nasty tactics and vowed never to employ them.

That pledge lasted until this year. After he won the Republican nomination, he dumped his longtime political team and hired the exact same smear merchants who destroyed him in 2000 to run his 2008 presidential campaign.

He made the sellout complete and brought in a cadre of high-dollar lobbyists as top advisers, he has traded his soul for victory, something even I did not expect.

Instead of a campaign on policy, issues and ideas, we have the McCain/Palin camp engaging in negative ads, attacks and lies in order to destroy the candidacy of Barack Obama.

If it was not so dishonest and against everything McCain says he stands for, it would be sad. John McCain is not just going to lose this election; he is going to lose his integrity as well.

They say a candidate's vice presidential pick is a window into how they will govern.

Republicans, looking for any sliver of hope, have raved endlessly about the brilliance of his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin. But she was not his first choice; Joe "Joementum" Lieberman has that honor. Imagine the Republican reaction had he chosen a pro-choice Democrat as his running mate. McCain might have even lost the South.

Tom Ridge was his second choice; a former governor, Secretary of Homeland Security and solid on both domestic and foreign policy. But Ridge is pro-choice, and that was a deal-killer with the Republican base.

McCain did not have the courage of his own convictions to pick either of the men he wanted as vice president; instead he went with the Rovebots' cynical and disastrous Plan C choice of Sarah Palin.

She brought the base back as expected, but has morphed from the plain-spoken hockey mom, pit bull with lipstick we saw at the convention into a political joke exceeding Quayle and Dukakis put together.
McCain did not put country first when he invited Sarah Palin to join his campaign. He did not put country first when he allowed the Karl Rove acolytes to take over his campaign and divide the nation again. He has not put country first by relegating issues, straight talk and truth to the back of the bus. The American people deserve better.

McCain had the opportunity to bring his party and the political discourse back towards the center, where real progress can be made, he chose not to do that and he will pay the price on Nov. 4.

The Democratic landslide that is coming will be historic, as will the new era of governance it ushers in. Thanks to George Bush and John McCain, the Republican Party will be mere spectators for years to come.

And that is change we can believe in.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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