Thursday, August 20, 2009

Missing John McCain

Here's a great piece by a friend, and I'm really excited for him for this reason: the editors at Huffington Post thought it was great also, and posted it on their blog/site! Click here, or on title of this post for Huff Po view. Congratulations, Seth! - sj

Missing John McCain
By Seth Pendleton
Partner, 4C Partners
Posted on Huffington Post: August 17, 2009 10:41 AM

During the presidential campaign, there were many things about John McCain that were hard to take. He was angry, awkward, and wrapped a little too tightly. And lest we forget, it was John McCain who unleashed Sarah Palin (aka the Big Quit) upon the American landscape. That alone we could legitimately see as utterly unforgivable. Nonetheless, at this moment in American politics, I find myself missing John McCain.

I don't miss the faux maverick shtick, or the bus, or the way he looks exactly like Nikita Khrushchev in a certain light. What I do miss is his courage. Not the incredible courage he displayed in the skies over Vietnam and during his horrific imprisonment in the Hanoi Hilton, though that courage illustrated the best part of John McCain the man.

I am speaking of a moment during a town hall late in the campaign, when a woman stood up and declared that Senator Obama was "an Arab." McCain did an amazing thing. Before she could finish, he reached out and took the microphone from her hand. You could clearly see his face harden as he backed away, refusing to look at her. Then he spoke. "He (Obama)'s a decent, family man, a citizen who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about."

McCain shut the woman down. He didn't even let her finish. He took the mic, turned away, and spoke the truth to someone speaking absolute lies.

Which leads me to wonder: where is that steady, sane, courageous voice in the Republican Party today? Where is the Republican leader willing to say to the frothing birthers: "The President is as American as you and me. We just disagree."

Where is the Republican Senator or Congressperson with the guts to buck the Limbaughhannitybeckdrudge machine and say, "Comparing the President to Hitler is an affront to the memory of every one of the six million men, women, and children who died in the Nazi death camps of World War II"?

Where is the one conservative commentator willing to say, "You know what? I believe in the Second Amendment, but bringing a loaded gun to a venue where the president is speaking just makes us all look crazy."

As a longtime liberal, a certain side of me relishes watching my political adversaries rushing headlong to form a circular firing squad. But some things transcend politics and point to a moral failing that harms the fabric of society. And that moral failing belongs increasingly to the Republicans who stand mute on the sidelines.

I am not saying it would be easy. Bucking your party is hard. And bucking your base -- as batshit crazy as it may be -- can be even harder. Kicking a can of kerosene onto the fire instead of grabbing a fire extinguisher can be the path of least political resistance. And if we are looking for courage from most politicians, we are on the ultimate fool's errand.

I know there must be one Republican out there with the courage to follow John McCain's example -- to take the microphone and turn away from the crazy person. But as the days tick by and the level of vitriol rises, there is, as of yet, no one calling bullshit on the absurd and dangerous happenings in America today.

Republicans have been bellowing for decades about how tough they are, and that they are ready to kick ass all over the world to protect America. It's time to see what they are willing to do to protect America right here at home.

If anyone can find one courageous Republican who is up to the task, tell them that their party -- and their country -- is looking for them.

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