Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Curmudgeon John Sidney McCain III

This is less funny than I thought it would be, but I took the time to write it and no one is going to read it anyway, so here you go:

Op-Ed Columnist
The Curmudgeon John Sidney McCain III
By Joe the Plumber
Published: October 16, 2008

IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any old man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about John McCain: a crazy person might give him a heart attack.

“I’ve got the best health in the world, so stop worrying,” McCain reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in loud arenas without incident (though I confess that the first large numbers of young people at the end of his convention speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At Obama-Biden rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Octogenarian!” and “Senile!” and “Nursing Home!” and “Get off my lawn!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of elderly epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at Obama-Biden rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Obama. McCain “launched his political career in the living room of James Garfield.” He is “palling around with elderly Jews” (note the plural noun). McCain is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America. At this point in his life, he’s not sure where he is.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context McCain quote, Biden slurs him as an enemy of young kids and their music.

By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real John McCain? I’m serious, I forgot.” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Corpse!” The rhetorical conflation of McCain with old dead people is complete.

That’s a far cry from simply accusing McCain of being a senile-by-correlation-with-his-age erratic old fogey. McCain is being branded as an accessory to past attempts at signing the constitution. “John McCain’s friend tried to discover India” was how an Obama press release last week packaged the remembrance of the Santa Maria incident from 1492 — when McCain was 8.

Could the old ageist politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and Republican panic) that this election will be decided by educated young men on the Coasts.

But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and McCain have to get there safely. The Obama campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting ageism, and each day the mob continues to listen to that “rap music.” The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.

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