Questions and One Thought After the GOP’s Last Day

The tragedy of John McCain is that he finally he achieved his dream of becoming the Republican nominee for President, but lost what was best about himself to do it.

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1. Where can I send my personal thanks to Tom Ridge and Cindy McCain? As evidenced by the time of most of my posts, I struggle with insomnia. Now I believe I have a video cure at the ready.

2. Is it awkward that a 2:22 second video about patriotism included more African-Americans than the entire collection of delegates at the convention?

3. Is it strange the entire media narrative of the Democratic National Convention was the terrible disunity of Democrats, while the Republicans were embarrassed to mention their own President and while 10,000 disaffected Ron Paul supporters were staging a convention in the same city, the same week as the RNC convention? It might be time to update those talking points—it’s not 1968 anymore.

4. How can John McCain claim, with a straight face, that he intends to overcome the partisan rancor in Washington, one night after letting his Vice Presidential nominee issue the most sarcastic, caustic, and childish set of remarks imaginable?

5. Was the slow motion video of of 9/11 attack the least respectful and most shameful moment in the history of modern national political conventions? The core of the Republican Party for the past year eight years has been governing though fear, and John McCain’s campaign feels the best way to show his break with the past is by exploiting the dead of 9/11? It was an obscenity.

The overriding thought I have, as the convention fades away, is a sense of sadness. I suspect that John McCain is a decent man, one who has often put his country ahead of his own interests, and I admire his service to his country. In 2000, I admired him for speaking the truth about the Republican Party and its nominee for President. It was a courageous act of someone who could honestly be called a maverick politician.

While I don’t share political views with Senator McCain and I honestly believe he has no real connection to the lives of average Americans, he was a decent politician and man, one with whom principled disagreement was acceptable.

Since he lost that campaign in 2000, though, either John McCain or his party were going to have to change if he hoped to be chosen as the Republican nominee. The past four days have clearly demonstrated the the party hasn’t changed; McCain has. His effort to paint himself as a bipartisan, independent thinker don’t have any credibility when delivered after three days of demagoguery, misrepresentations and outright contempt for the other party. Presidential candidates control the messages of their conventions more tightly than Sarah Palin ran Wasilla, Alaska, and Senator McCain bears responsibility for the tone of this week.

Certainly, conventions are designed to be partisan affairs, and a certain degree of attacking the other party is to be expected. What’s troubling about Fox-fueled, Limbaugh-led modern Republican Party is the hostility and willingness to demonize their opponents that characterizes their rhetoric. Does anyone really believe that Democrats want to lose wars? That they are not interested in national security? That they relish abortions, or don’t care about students in public schools?

I don’t know which is more troubling to me: that Republicans actually believe these things, or are willing to say them just for votes. And that’s why I can’t abide the idea of John McCain becoming the next President. I could have lived with the McCain in 2000 who stood up to the extremist wing of the Republican Party and was even victimized by them. After the past four years and four days, I have no faith that he will stand up to them any more, and we are likely to see an extension of the status quo.

The tragedy of John McCain is that he finally he achieved his dream of becoming the Republican nominee for President, but lost what was best about himself to do it.

The Republican Party does not deserve four more years of mismanaging and terrorizing this nation. At one time, John McCain could have changed—and perhaps even saved his party. Instead, he aligned himself with the worst of what his party represents. Extending a few olive branches towards the idea of bipartisanship tonight certainly doesn’t change that.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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