A lot of pundits seem dismayed and surprised at the moral depths to which Dishonest John McCain’s campaign has sunk in the last week. I have to disagree. There is nothing surprising about it. This is his MO: do whatever he thinks is necessary. McCain has a long history of lack of principle and probity, whether it is in his personal life (a vile and abusive temper, disloyalty to his first wife) or his public life (corrupt behavior in the Savings and Loan scandal, chicanery on behalf of gaming interests and much more). Where I do agree with his new found critics is the frightening nature of his behavior in a time when the economy is spiraling out of control and a major depression is looming. Historically these conditions have unleashed the worst in the American character, a visceral Nativism and the McCain – Palin campaign events are enabling the kind of racist, xenophobic and vicious responses that tend to accompany hysterical fear turned and turn it to unthinking anger. It isn’t just scaring me. It’s scaring a lot of people, including Republican moderates (the ones that are left).
Former McCain supporter Frank Schaeffer:
John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as “not one of us,” I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.
At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, “Kill him!” At one of your rallies, someone called out, “Terrorist!” Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee – an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.
John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.
Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
John McCain, you’re walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out “Terrorist” or “Kill him,” history will hold you responsible for all that follows.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations. (Baltimore Sun)
David Frum at The National Review:
Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting. (National Review Online)
“One of the most striking things we’ve seen in the last few day, we have seen it at the Palin rallies and we saw it at the McCain rally today,” said David Gergen, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday evening. “And we saw it to a considerable degree during the rescue package legislation. There is a free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence. And I think we’re not far from that.”
“I really worry when we get people — when you get the kind of rhetoric that you’re getting at these rallies now,” said Gergen. “I think it’s really imperative the candidates try to calm people down.” (via Rachel Weiner at HuffPo)
Former Michigan Republican Gov. William Milliken:
“He is not the McCain I endorsed,” said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. “He keeps saying, ‘Who is Barack Obama?’ I would ask the question, ‘Who is John McCain?’ because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.
“I’m disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues.” (Grand Rapids Press)
Republican consultant Michelle Laxalt:
“They have send this young, naive — very confident, perhaps in Alaska — young woman out with the most incendiary talking points, the most dangerous racist talking points and I think they should be ashamed of themselves,” Laxalt told CNN’s Larry King Thursday night. (Raw Story)
Dan Balz, WaPo:
But what’s also clear is that McCain’s tactics are over the line, with no restraint in sight, and threaten to provoke reactions among partisans on both sides that will continue to escalate.
The RNC’s new ad attacks Obama for his questionable association with convicted developer Tony Rezko, for his ties to Ayers and, perhaps most inexplicably, for taking advice from William Daley, the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Bill Daley is described as heir to the Chicago machine. The ad does not mention the mayor.
This is the same Bill Daley who served as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and who seemed to have a harmonious relationship with the then-chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, one John McCain. (Washington Post)
McCain supporter and Republican Congressman Ray LaHood:
Rep. LaHood, who has represented Illinois’ 18th district for seven terms and is retiring in January, told WBBM Radio that Palin should control the racially-charged heckling at her rallies:
“Look it. This doesn’t befit the office that she’s running for. And frankly, people don’t like it.”
Some of the names Obama is being called, which include “terrorist” and “traitor,” “certainly don’t reflect the nature of the man,” LaHood said to WBBM. (Sam Stein, HuffPo)