Sunday, September 14, 2008

The McCain mudslide

As a young Air Force officer, I was taken aside by a battle-ribboned  colonel who counseled me. "Young man," he said sternly, "there is one thing you must remember as long as you are wearing that uniform.  You must never do anything to dishonor it."  Years later, when I was the Beacon Journal's politics writer,  John S. Knight, the last of the great newspaper editors,  confided during a meeting in his office his commitment not only to his newspaper but also to himself.  "As long as my name is on this paper,"  he said, " I will never tolerate anything that will bring dishonor to me or the paper."

In both instances, damn good words to live by. Unfortunately they are being grossly ignored by John McCain.  To his discredit, his sleazy campaign - how else can you describe the lies that he hopes will vault him to the White House? - has stripped him of the honor of a bona fide war hero to that of a third-rate politician groveling to the finish line using an equally deceptive Annie Oakley as his crutch.   Even Karl Rove, a master of deception himself, allows that the McCain/Palin attacks on Barack Obama have gone over the line. That translates easily into references to indefensible lies by the Republican team.

You can find the seeds of the McCain philosophy in Orwell's 1984. 

              "He who controls the past controls the future." 

We won't know until election day whether that will prevail.   Until then, I'll settle for the reproachful words of Joseph Welch, the Army's civilian counsel,  as he challenged Sen. Joseph McCarthy at their combative Senate hearing.   Bolder than most who had been slandered by the villainous senator, the comparatively meek Welch dressed down McCarthy. "You have done enough.  Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"

We can continue to wonder about McCain's slide into the darkest side of politics.  Maybe the answer would explain why he finished near the bottom of his class - 894th of 899 - at the U.S. Naval Academy. 



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