John McCain had to die for George Bush’s sins.
In a fair world, the economic meltdown costs George Bush an election, not John McCain.
a fair world, George Bush runs against a charismatic, photogenic
candidate who conducts one of the most brilliantly organized
presidential campaigns ever, a man who arrives at the precise moment in
history when he’s needed the most. And McCain gets to run against a
robot and the winner of a Ted Cassidy look-alike contest.
a fair world, George Bush is roasted in the media for idiotic
misstatements, catastrophic misjudgments, and overall out-of-touchness.
a fair world, none of these things happen to a man who spent five years
as a POW in Hanoi. They happen to the guy who spent the war doing
kegstands at Yale and protecting El Paso from the Viet Cong
a truly fair world, George Bush doesn’t have a powerful daddy to get
him in the Texas National Guard, so he has to go to Vietnam, and maybe
the experience transforms him, so when he becomes president he doesn’t
send servicemen to be maimed and killed on a complete fucking lie.
Last I checked, life isn’t fair.
George Bush will never be touched. Once January 20
rolls around, he’ll step on the presidential helicopter, disappear into
the horizon, and never be seen again. He will not become an elder
statesman like Richard Nixon. He won’t devote his life to charity like
Jimmy Carter. He won’t even tour the lecture circuit like Bill Clinton.
will go back to his ranch in Crawford and become a ghost. He will not
be heard from again in any meaningful way. And when he dies, it will be
at a ripe old age. Like Pol Pot and Pinochet, he will go to his grave
without serving a single day for his crimes.
not just Bush who will go off scot-free, but all of his biggest
abettors and supporters. Karl Rove will continue as a Fox analyst, and
when he’s not too busy imitating a wet toad, he’ll take a few moments
to whisper evil sweet nothings in the RNC’s ear.
Rumsfeld will take a cushy private sector job, and go to his grave
thinking that trying to fight in Iraq on a budget was a good idea.
Cheney will never die. If there’s ever a nuclear holocaust, rest
assured him and cockroaches will survive it, and fight for scraps
amidst the smoking ruins.
Limbaugh can survive his drug scandal, and if Bill O’Reilly can survive
Loofah-gate, and if Sean Hannity can survive being the insufferable
prick that he is, then nothing will take these assholes down.
George Bush will never pay for anything, and neither will his best buddies. So John McCain paid for him.
This was not inevitable, but John McCain did everything in his power to make it so.
McCain vied with Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000, he
positioned himself as The Reasonable Candidate. Battle tested and
bipartisan, the perfect antithesis of the fire-breathing ideologues of
the 1994 Republic Revolution. He even spoke out against religious right
loonies like Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell. He held great appeal for
people on all spots in the political spectrum. There was no way he
should have lost to a spoiled dilettante like Bush.
Karl Rove pulled every dirty trick out of Lee Atwater’s blood-soaked
handbook. It would be easier to list what Rove’s whisper campaign didn’t accuse McCain of. But when the dust settled, Bush ascended a mountain of mud to snag the GOP’s seal of approval.
seethed and sulked about this for years. He technically endorsed Bush,
although if you watch the footage of that endorsement, you will never
see a more uncomfortable man than John McCain at that moment. But he
did little to aid his presidential campaign. After Bush stole the 2000
election, McCain even fought some of his initiatives (most notably, his
ridiculous corporate tax cuts).
gradually, McCain decided he still wanted to be president. And he came
to the conclusion that, having failed to beat Bush, he would join him.
crept further and further to the right. He reached out to the same
lunatic fringe he rejected in 2000. He heartily campaigned for Bush’s
reelection bid in 2004. He became the biggest cheerleader for the Iraq
war (and a songsmith for future wars in Iran). And despite leading a
Congressional investigation into the horrors of Abu Ghraib, he even
backed off his renunciation of torture.
reward was the 2008 Republican nomination and a bountiful inheritance
of many of Bush’s top campaign minds. In a cruel bit of irony, they
were the same bastards who engineered his smear job eight years ago.
Unfortunately for McCain, this came at the exact same time that The
Bush Brand was at its lowest watermark. But it was too late to un-Bush
himself at that point. And even worse, he wasn’t very good at running
the Bush playbook.
Sure, by all
accounts, the McCain campaign was stunningly inept. But I honestly
think that you can ascribe his cringe-worthy bloopers to the fact that
McCain is not a good actor. He is not the empty Regurgitation Machine
that is Bush.
See, the reason that
Rove/Bush worked is because Bush is a completely empty vessel. He is
adept at dispensing whatever is poured into him. And he is driven by
people who have no true agenda except acquiring power by the basest,
Stockholm-Syndrome-y ways possible. Scare the shit out of everyone and
make their fear vote for you. That’s not a conservative tactic–it’s a
sociopath’s. If Karl Rove came from Caracas, he’d find a Venezuelan
George Bush and make him into Hugo Chavez. And he’d do it with the same
shit-eating grin he has now.
never truly comfortable doing this, because he has something close to a
soul. And the sicker his campaign got–the William Ayers whispering,
the resurrection of Jeremiah Wright, the socialism boogeyman–the worse
he looked trying to spread the disease. So he farmed out the vilest
tasks to Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.
Sarah Palin is the kind of person who would tell you she’s never tried sushi, and say it like she’s proud
of it. She’s been nowhere, seen nothing, spoken to no one, and yet is
convinced she knows everything. Because, like many profoundly ignorant
people, she’s decided that anything she doesn’t already know isn’t
And for all of her pandering nonsense about The Real America, you know she would love to live out some decadent Sex and the City-esque
fantasies, as Nieman Marcus-gate proved. If you gave Sarah Palin an
apartment on the Upper West Side and Carrie Bradshaw’s credit line,
she’d leave Alaska behind quicker than you could say cosmo-tini.
the Plumber is every barstool philosopher you’ve ever met, crossed with
a healthy dose of jock-bully arrogance and idiocy. You’ve probably
worked with someone like him. Someone who says he hates the idea of gay
marriage but brags about cheating on his girlfriend. Someone who rails
against “welfare cheats” and tells stories about ripping off his
He is the epitome of Reality
Show America, a culture where everyone thinks they’re wonderful enough
to be on TV and share their brilliant opinions. The beautiful thing is,
his hour has already passed before he was able hit even William Hung
levels of quote-unquote fame. Even better: I’m sure he is blissfully
ignorant of this fact, just like he’s blissfully ignorant of pretty
much everything else.
For most of the
campaign, I didn’t feel sorry for John McCain. He made his bed, I
thought, and now he had to lie in it. No one told him he had to follow the Bush model. No one told him he had to hitch his wagon to vapid holes like Palin and Joe the Plumber. No one told him he had to encourage thinly-veiled racism and threats of violence at his rallies.
didn’t feel any more sorry for John McCain than I did for conservative
columnists like George Will and David Brooks. These Ivy League assholes
ignored or glossed over Bush’s evil tactics for 8 years. This year,
they suddenly start decrying the party’s anti-intellectualism and
wondering “what, oh what became of my wonderful party of ideas?”
Newsflash, boys: The Republicans haven’t had ideas since Reagan left office. What you’re really
angry about is not the fact that the science-hating, Left Behind types
have taken over your party, but that pandering to these lunatics can no
longer win national elections.
was a moment when my contempt finally turned to pity. It came when John
McCain was stood up by Joe the Plumber at a campaign stop. I should
have laughed as McCain called for Joe over and over again. Instead, I
marveled that no one would have warned him that Joe wasn’t there. I
mean, all they’d have to do is send one of his aides to front of the
crowd with HE’S NOT HERE scrawled in Sharpie on a manila folder. And I
was astounded that Joe the Plumber would abandon the man who catapulted
him to fame.
But then it hit me, like it
must have hit John McCain at that moment: He’d been abandoned. He’d
done everything the party asked of him, and they couldn’t even be
bothered to tell him his special guest didn’t show up. He made Joe the
Plumber a celebrity, and the jerkoff repaid him by blowing off a
campaign stop so he could pursue a country music career. He plucked
Sarah Palin from political obscurity, and she repaid him by going on a
shopping spree and refusing to prepare for softball interviews.
any footage from the last two weeks of McCain’s campaign. He looks like
he’s on the verge of hysterics any second. Not ha-ha hysterics, either,
but madcap laughter. I think he realized the unfairness of it all, the
cosmic joke of being blamed for the sins of a man he hated. If you were
faced with such a horrifying scenario, you’d laugh, too.
McCain gave his concession speech, he looked like he’d shed a stifling
mask and could breathe again for the first time in months. His speech
was gracious and humble and moving, and above all, genuine. It was
easily his finest moment of the campaign because it was actually him
I found myself thinking, where was this guy for the last year? I bet a lot of people missed him.
“the real” John McCain have won the election?I doubt it. But I also
feel that John McCain will not be haunted by the fact that he lost the
election, but that he let Bush lose it for him.