More than one kind of courage

What did John Lewis mean when he likened John McCain to George Wallace? Not what you think he meant, says someone who has studied both Lewis and Wallace.

Russ Rymer argues that when John Lewis likened John McCain to George Wallace, he was warning about the need for political courage as much as rebuking a flirtation with racism. Rymer tells succinctly a fine, nuanced story: not a melodrama, but a tragedy, or a pair of them.

Prosecution, please.

Assault and battery against a Democratic tracker by someone who seems to be a Missouri Republican party official.

Looks like assault and battery to me. And the perp even waves into the camera.

The victim is a Democratic tracker at a Missouri Republican rally. [Update: Turns out to have been a rally for the Republican candidate for governor. Apparently the victim was eventually pushed to the ground.]The assailant is wearing what seems to be a Missouri Republican Party lapel pin. Given his behavior, I can only call his failure to wear an American Flag lapel pin an act of unwonted patriotism.

Yes, Glenn, we said that if Bush were re-elected, we’d see opponents of the ruling party openly assulted on public property. And we were right!

Footnote “Trackers” are people who videotape opposition rallies, hoping to capture a “macaca” moment. Perfectly lawful activity. A&B, of course, isn’t.


Joe Klein has been banned from the McCain and Palin campaign planes.

Joe Klein of Time criticized the campaign over the “kindergarten sex” ad and asked McCain a question that pointed out that Ahmadinejad doesn’t control the Iranian military. Now Klein can’t get a seat on either the McCain or the Palin campaign plane.

A McCain spokesgeek grumps, “We don’t allow Daily Kos diarists on board either.” Do they provide dog collars for their tame journalists?

Yes, it’s possible to go too far …

… even at a McCain rally. A anti-Islamic bigot gets roundly rebuked by a bunch of McCain supporters, including one campaign staffer.

… even at a McCain rally. A anti-Islamic bigot gets roundly rebuked by a bunch of McCain supporters, including one campaign staffer.

I wish the two candidates had as much class as the good people in this video. McCain could and should have said weeks ago what Colin Powell said yesterday. But this is encouraging.

The company he keeps

John McCain is employing the same robo-call artists who smeared his family in 2000 against Barack Obama.

1. John McCain said in 2000 that “there’s a special place in Hell” reserved for the people who slimed him and his family using robo-calls.

2. John McCain said to Letterman Thursday night, apropos Ayers, that people ought to be held accountable for those they choose to associate with.

3. McCain’s campaign is now employing those same robo-call artists against Barack Obama.

For example, the robo-calls don’t say that Obama is a terrorist. They say that Obama “worked closely” with Ayers – not mentioning what they worked closely on, of course, or when – and that Ayers was involved with a group that bombed the Pentagon and killed people. The inference that Obama worked closely with Ayers on bombing the Pentagon is left for the listener to draw.

Here’s the text:

Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans.

Sen. Susan Collins has denounced the ads. (Her colleague, Olympia Snowe, who isn’t up for election this year, hasn’t.)

These are the same people who made calls saying that McCain had fathered a black child. Do you think they’ll want to mention that Obama has fathered two black children?



To: John McCain

From: All decent Americans

Re: Your post-election apology

Don’t bother. We’re not interested.

Requiem for a maverick

“Requiem for a Heavyweight” and current events.

Requiem for a Heavyweight is about a washed-up boxer who disgraces himself and ruins his career by taking a dive. In the unbearably pathetic last scene, the boxer appears, made up as an “Indian chief,” and starts dancing around the ring. We realize that he has descended to professional wrestling.

Having lost everything else, he has now lost his self-respect; no longer a fighter, he has become a clown. Forty years after I saw that teleplay, recalling “Big Chief Mountain Rivera” still gets me choked up.

I wonder what made me think of that scene? Could it have been another, more recent, made-for-TV event?

Update I’m told my memory of the tele-play is way wide of the mark. I seem to have commingled the plot of Requiem with that of On the Waterfront.

When your “hero” calls you out…

When they heard McCain’s “hero” John Lewis say they were hate mongering, John McCain and his campaign never once considered that there might be some truth in what Lewis said.

According to John McCain on CNN... If you’re John McCain, the words “stop you in your tracks,” but then you conclude the words are unacceptable without reflecting whether and how they might be true.

If you’re his campaign, you see it as “what the campaign is up against” and ground the plane to “figure out how to respond.”

What you apparently never do, is question your own despicable behavior.

You just can’t blink…. Palin rules.

The real McCain?

One reading of McCain’s belated protests against his supporters’ hate speech is that it’s a purely cynical move, motivated by bad press and by protests from moderate Republicans. I admit that I incline to that interpretation.

But it’s not the only reading consistent with the facts. Yes, McCain is accountable for the staff he has collected and for the campaign he’s allowed them to run, and for the choice of Palin. Still, it’s possible that there is in fact an actual human being named John Sidney McCain III who has more backbone and a final moral fiber than the candidate “John McCain.”

H.L. Mencken once said that Henry Wallace was the only person on the Progressive Party campaign who wasn’t a Communist. And Barry Goldwater showed through his later political life that he wasn’t really the Birch Society wingnut he campaigned as.

If there really is a decent John Sidney McCain III buried under all that campaign sludge, he’s going to be really, really ashamed of himself once this is over. Come to think of it, being really, really ashamed of himself is one of McCain’s standard post-abomination ploys.


Joe Gandelman:

The 2008 McCain is to the 2000 McCain what New Coke was to Coke Classic.

Up until this week, there were many voters who thought they were voting for McCain 2000: that after the election he’d take off his mask and stand revealed as Moderate-Man. Now there are fewer of them. As Arianna Huffington said, “I’d like to vote for the John McCain of 2000. But to do so I’d need a time machine.”