At the best of times, John McCain is a good man — even a great one. But the sad truth is that much of the moral fiber that makes him great, and distinguishes him from the vast swath of his party, seems to come and go with the political cycle. An example.
After winning the nomination in 2008, McCain took a bold step, and eliminated the phrase “Democrat Party” from his party’s platform. By way of background, this shortening of the Democratic Party’s name, designed to emphasize the harsh “rat” sound and otherwise convey disrespect, has a long history in the Republican’s vocabulary of derision. Regular use dates at least to Joe McCarthy, but it was the 1996 Republican Party, and George W. Bush, who re-injected the term into modern discourse. Restoring to his Democratic opponents the respect of using their own name, then, was an extraordinary, if subtle, act of political courage, and a sign of the true class of which John McCain is capable.
You can probably see where this is going. From an e-mail to supporters:
The 2010 election offers all Americans – and especially Republicans – a critical choice. We can fight for the principles we believe in, or watch as Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress take our nation down a costly, destructive path.
McCain’s use of the term is half-hearted — he recants of it later (“Inconceivably the Obama White House and Democratic Congressional leaders…“) — but it’s a sure sign of how tough things must be in Arizona. The last time we saw McCain slip into hyper-negative mode was February of ’08, as the general election campaign kicked off and McCan began to face (scurrilous) allegations of impropriety with campaign staff. Palin would later carry this torch for McCain.
Democrat Party. Socialism. “Liberal fascism.” Death panels. ObamaCare. ObamaCrats. “Hopey changey.” This rhetoric, par for the course from senior almost GOP policymakers, amounts to a slur on the political process, and proof that the GOP continues to win by pandering to the lowest common denominator. McCain used to be better than that, intermittently, sometimes.