26 September 2008


I've never experienced such strong reaction to a politician, positive or negative, as I do now to John McCain. It's what many feel, I think, when they mention George W. Bush. The loathing and revile drips from sarcastic tongues. I've never felt that for our current president. Frustration? Sure. Dismay? Obviously. Disbelief? Regularly. But I've never despised the man. More or less, George W. Bush has simply been the ignorant head of state who's steered us the wrong way for too long.

What I now feel for John McCain is tantamount to what I heard in my father's voice as a child, before I even understood who or what "Nixon" was. It's what I heard in my high school history teacher's voice, when she mentioned how her family wouldn't mention FDR by name, simply referred to him instead, with transparent disgust, as "that man."

I wish I had been as high on Bill Clinton as I am now low on John McCain. I wish that my enthusiasm for the positive change I feel all around me every time I volunteer for the Obama campaign could rival this consuming and daily intensifying negativity I feel toward John McCain.

Let me be clear: I didn't even like the bailout plan. So when I step back, it should not anger me so to hear that it was scuttled yesterday. It wasn't a good plan. The American people deserve better. The U.S. government can't simply invoke socialism when it's convenient, to save the wealthiest 1%, but tell everybody else that they're on their own when it comes to health care and college educations. I'm no fan of the Bush/Paulson plan, but I sort of got the feeling midday yesterday that Democratic leaders and the administration were working out a compromise. Pay out the huge sum in installments. Only give Paulson $250 billion of the requested $700 billion up front. Leave some back for the president to order up should the economy show the need. Allow Congress a 30 day objection period to evaluate the situation. Deliver a sense, however thin, that there might actually be oversight.

As bad as the Bush/Paulson plan was, I was optimistic yesterday that some reality checks had been put in place. Compromises are, by necessity, often disappointing. If what we've been hearing the past week is to be believed, however, this thing had to move forward with a certain urgency. And John McCain "suspended" not only his campaign--which is universally laughable--but also derailed what by all appearances looked like progressive talks between the administration and congressional leaders to work out a compromise that might have promised the U.S. economy and population a little bit of security. Not enough, of course, but some.

Today I am angry. Usually I can maintain a spectator's detachment for all this political tomfoolery, the stunts, the tricks, the bad-faith manipulations. It's politics, right? It's a tough sport. But McCain has riled something in me that I've never known before for a public figure: raw, dripping disgust. Not because the guy has the nerve to get behind a different plan. I'm all for alternative plans. But because he's tacking his election hopes to the safety and security of my future, my family's future. Not just our financial futures, although I'm incredulously considering whether my money actually is as safe as I thought in a simple money market account, of all things, and whether my meager retirement funds might just *poof* disappear one of these days. But with our health and well being. That's what we have to talk about when we talk about the possibility of deep, nationwide, financial collapse.

The guy is a dumb stud standing on the railroad tracks in the middle of the bridge, playing chicken with a locomotive bearing down with a cargo of 300 million. That's why I'm angry. Because John McCain will do anything to win, no matter who or how many stand to lose. I find this loathesome, and little. Such bravado is unbecoming in any leader. If this guy was a small town mayor with a history of blowing up at people and demonstrating a scornful pride in shooting from the hip, if he was bargaining with the economies, pensions, paychecks, and lives of an entire, delicate, social ecosystem, he'd be recalled pretty damn quick.

I've said this before, though not in such harsh terms. If the last eight years were terrible under an easy going nincompoop, what would four years under an angry sleazebag political cannibal with axes to grind and this terrible thirst to prove something, to be right, look like?