After reading this insightful article analyzing how John McCain’s run for the White House imploded, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Old Man. It was that Maverick back in 2000 that I was looking for (and when Shrub won the nomination, the governer of my home state at the time, I said to myself, “Well, I guess I won’t be voting this year”). It was that rogue Republican who often pissed off his own party to work for and lobby for issues and policies that he believed in, that rogue Republican who seriously thought about naming Independant Joe Lieberman as his vice-president.
But buckling under his Party’s pressure for someone more appealing to the Republican base, and, perhaps, to create its own “history-making” ticket, he accepted the Party’s choice of Sarah Palin instead. And from the RNC’s convention onward, his rhetoric became more and more the Republican base, as his campaign rallies no longer had the mosaic of disillusioned, conservative Democrats (like Zell Miller and Lieberman), staunch libertarian-leaning independents, and even liberal-leaning Republicans, gelling instead to the very vocal Republican base of strong social and evangelical conservatives who, more than anything, didn’t support McCain as so much as supporting Palin and hating Obama.
This became clearer to me as I saw the sad irony of McCain sometimes *defending* Obama’s patriotism during some of his rallies, and even in his concession speech last night, when he had to calm down the “boo’s” when he mentioned Obama by name.
The real John McCain — as his little brother Joe McCain pointed out — got lost in a well-meaning Republican Party’s desire to get out a strong Republican showing come election day, to make those Red States won by Shrub solidly Red and, perhaps, make a few Blue states “purple.”
So instead of the bi-partisan work that made McCain the Maverick, and was part of his senatorial record, be the focus of the McCain campaign, that same reputation of bi-partisanship and unity became the focus of Obama’s campaign and message. And *that* message struck a chord so strong, especially in regards to working through bi-partisan and multi-lateral means to get us through this crappy economy, that instead of Blue states turning Red, it was Red states (like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida) turning Blue, in a landslide not seen since the Reagan years, of 349 electoral votes *and* nearly 10 million more voters in the popular vote.
Even Bill Clinton, in his two elections in 1992 and 1996, didn’t get *that*.
Yes, Barack Obama solidly earned his election, to be our first African-American president of the United States of America, with 70% of the electoral votes. Yes, We the People have spoken, with the largest voter turnout in decades. But the way John McCain lost — drowning in the tides of hardline Republican rhetoric — just makes me, an independent whose mom voted for Obama and Dad voted for McCain, very sad. For, at age 72, election year 2008 just may have been his last shot at the presidency.
And for an old maverick Republican like John McCain, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.