Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reflections on John McCain's Defeat: One Last "Dear John" Letter

Dear John,

Well, we tried as best we could to help you, but you lost the election anyway. Needless to say, lots of us are left heartbroken, but more so, scared and worried about what an Obama presidency with substantial gains for Democrats in both houses will do to us.

There’s no denying this was going to be a very difficult election for Republicans. A year ago it was a foregone conclusion, Hilary Clinton was going to be our next President unless Rudy Giuliani had some special magic to beat her. What happened the next few months resulted in something no one would ever have imagined: Barack Obama versus John McCain. If someone suggested that would have been the matchup a year ago, surely everyone would have thought , John, you would have won easily. With your background as an American hero and fellow who had tremendous appeal to Democrats and Indepent Voters, no upstart could upset you. However, as the days to Iowa approached, Obama’s talent was clearly evident, and just weeks later, his victory in South Carolina made Hilary Clinton the challenger forevermore. Meanwhile, it almost seemed like nobody wanted to be the Republican nominee except for you and Mike Huckabee.

On September 12, you appeared to have a darned good chance of winning the election. You led or had drawn even in all the major polls. Then the economy tanked as did your numbers, but it’s not that simple, not that simple at all.

John, let’s be honest, you ran a HORRIBLE campaign. This was one for the ages to go down with Michael Dukakis and Bob Dole for badly managed, poorly conceived efforts. We aired our concerns frequently about the direction your efforts were headed since July, yet the campagin never grew its teeth. If we need evidence what a horrible team was supporting you, we need only look atwhat’s developed surrounding your running mate after the election. Who knows or should really care about the "bath towel" episode other than what kind of man would talk publicly (as a cowardly "unnamed source") about something that if it happened was nothing more than an awkward mistake. Now we know who really ran your show, General Disarray and Major Disaster.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, did you get screwed by the Press. Of course you did. Still you never saw it coming because they once cheered you when it served their purposes because you were so good at irritating your party's establishment. You gave George W. Bush and Richard Chaney fits. However, once you became the likely leader of the party they hate, you should have known what was in store for you. Not since Eisenhower, has the media ever had good feelings about a Republican presidential candidate. Your efforts to talk over, above, and around the press was as big of a failure as was your effort to take them head-on. Your attempt to criticize the press even when the New York Times defamed your wife amounted to little more than a sobbing whimper.

What the hell is the story about Sarah Palin? Seldom has anyone burst on the scene overnight the way she did. After her feisty, fired up address at the Republican convention, she created an excitement that gave you a huge bounce to build upon. But the press, the Democrats allies like who would have been nothing were it not for being empowered by the McCain/Feingold bill, and the Obama campaign were more than ready sending thousands of lawyers, private investigators, and investigative reporters to dig up every last grain of dirt on her. Though their charges were superficial, they took up a lot of press space and diversion from the issues you and she needed to drive home to win the election. Again, couldn't you see this coming? Were you surprised that she took the pounding in the media and by the celebrity world she did? You shouldn’t have been. If you looked at how they treated Hilary Clinton, who was once their gal, did you think she’d get a fair hearing as a staunchly independent, genuinely conservative Governor of Alaska?

The truth is, after the convention, most of Sarah Palin’s public exposure that got national attention even on Fox News Network was a miserable failure. She showed not a hint of gravitas in her interview with Charles Gibson and then looked hopelessly overmatched with Katie Couric. Did you, she, or your staff think that was going to be easy? Couric was the one national anchor who held Barack Obama’s hand to the flame when she interviewed him on his European victory tour and she was going to play nice with Sarah? To Ms. Palin’s credit, she came across as intelligent, thoughtful, and politically mature in her interviews with Sean Hannity, but surely you know what the media thinks of Mr. Hannity. They can’t wait for the Democrats and Obama to push through the Fairness Doctrine that will likely push Hannity of the radio airwaves. We have no doubts that Ms. Palin had experience worth Vice Presidential consideration and that she was certainly more qualified than Barack Obama, but she never sounded like a mature intelligent adult on the air. Ms. Palin's public persona was so one dimensional seldomdly transcending beyond witty zingers aimed at the Democrats, she failed to seem like a future leader. Because she seemed so green, all of a sudden, the charges of inexperience in this campaign went from Obama to her. Her inability to speak the English language as an intellectually formed adult was almost as dreadful as that of our current President’s. College educated executives don’t say, “woncha”, “didja,” “gonna,” and “wudja.” They also realize the “g” in words ending in “ing” is not a silent letter. Frankly, in serious situations, such speech is not acceptable of high school grads in the workplace. Ask yourself how much of her speaking would get criticism if she were a 7th grade student giving a report in her English or Social Studies class. While it might have seemed “folksy” and genuine to some of the targeted voters, it also was subject to the northeastern intellectual conservatives such as Peggy Noonan, George Will, and David Brooks. The end result of the Palin candidacy is that whether someone admires her or dislikes her, the whole Sarah Palin affair reflects horribly on you, John McCain. If she’s a fool, you were a fool for appointing her. If she’s brilliant and has the intellectual qualities she is accused of lacking, you are the fool for mishandling and misguiding her.

Here's something else that really hurts: you ran as a Republican. Where was your support for Republican candidates running for the House and the Senate? You needed to attack the party of Reid and Pelosi and the extreme excesses they represent and make the public scared as hell of having both the executive and legislative branches horrified of the possibility of their rule. Through your inattention to the other Republicans running for office, you hung them out to dry. They were clobbered in this election, some in states that you won. North Carolina and Virginia are now BLUE states. While it’s understandable you had to put your distance between yourself and George W. Bush, you could have been a little more discreet about it and still got your message across. He is the standard bearer of the Republican party whose successes benefitted the party too. How could the Republican party win with so little teamwork.? It was every man for himself. Further, given the Sarah Palin bashing and the stories surfacing about people who wanted to engage in activities to support you but no one was available to help them suggests that within your campaign itself, again your campaign looks foolish. The Republican side of the election was a sorry display of every man for himself.

Much will be said about the inevitability of history, that Barack Obama was riding a certain wave of history that came ashore in November, 2008. Still, your campaign had so many chances never taken, so many opportunities missed, and so many plays botched.

It’s back to the Senate for two more years. Serve with pride. You deserve it. Show leadership by example and work to bring idealistic young people into service with the Republican Party. Stay away from too much handshaking across the aisle. Given their majority, if they need your help to get something passed, it’s almost certainly something wise legislators should step away from.

Yes, John McCain, I am honestly unhappy and frankly ashamed of the campaign you ran for President, and some of your efforts “crossing the aisle” has brought about very dangerous legislation such as the infamous “McCain/Feingold” bill have really put the hurts on your party and the Conservative movement. This does not distract from my recognition of the brilliant career you have served and the sacrifices you have made to our country. As a person who was once healthy and has been severely disabled by injuries, I can appreciate just how much you gave while serving in that hell hole of a prison in North Vietnam, and as much as I was abhorrently against the Vietnam as the most horrendous mistake my country has made in my lifetime, what they did to you reinforces my hatred of communism and socialist ideals.

Hold your head high. I know you will be man enough to sustain the “ass whoopin’” you’re taking now.


Right Minded Fellow (and probably millions of other Americans)

PS: Say “Hi” to your incredible mom. What a lady. We can sure see where you get a lot of your toughness. She was always a bright spot when on television!!!

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