Wednesday, September 10, 2008


If John McCain gets away with this appalling campaign and wins in November, it would be nice to think that the political establishment would recoil in disgust.

Unfortunately, I remember the worst campaign in my life prior to this one, the Poppy Bush campaign of 1988, and let me assure you: after the Willie Horton ads and the insinuations that Kitty Dukakis burned an American flag and all the rest, George H.W. Bush uttered lovely platitudes of conciliation on election night ... and all was forgiven immediately. There was no ripple effect from the ugly campaign. The conventional wisdom was, in effect, that it had all been a bad dream (or, more literally, that Poppy was an honorable man who'd done what he had to do to win, but in so doing he hadn't been true to his real nature, and now that the election was over he was once again going to be the nice man everyone knew him to be).

Excerpts from that '88 speech:

...A campaign is a disagreement, and disagreements divide, but an election is a decision, and decisions clear the way for harmony and peace. I mean to be a President of all the people, and I want to work for the hopes and interests not only of my supporters, but of the Governors and of those who didn't vote at all. To those who supported me, I will try to be worthy of your trust, and to those who did not, I will try to earn it, and my hand is out to you and I want to be your President, too.

I think I know how Governor Dukakis feels. I lost a few along the way myself and it hurts. We fought long and hard, and the Governor can take great satisfaction in the fact that his valiant family - Kitty and Kara and Andrea and John - did him proud.

Now I know that we'll come together as we always have: 200 years of harmony in the oldest, greatest democracy in man's time on earth....

The same sleazebags who are shaping John McCain's sewer-level campaign right now are going to pop a victory speech just like that into the teleprompter if he wins. And after he delivers it, the press will conclude, with a sigh of relief, that the man they used to admire was the real John McCain all along. And we will all be expected to act as if none of this ever happened.


I should add: This isn't a reason for despair. This is a reason we need to win.

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