Monday, October 13, 2008

Too Little, Too Late

I applaud John McCain's recent defense of Barack Obama to his supporters. I applaud his decision to take the microphone away from a woman in Minnesota who called Obama an Arab. This is the John McCain I considered voting for. Unfortunately, the gesture by McCain is too little, too late.

Only after days of being lambasted by the media did John McCain start to correct the false statements of his base. On Saturday, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a man McCain enunciated in August as one of three people he would rely on the most if he were elected President, criticized the McCain/Palin campaign's recent actions:
"He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights," wrote Lewis, who is black. "As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. . . . The American people deserve better."

McCain, in turn, called Lewis' statement
"a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kinds of reform that will put America on the right track."

What about Lewis' statement was rude or insulting to McCain's character? It was the actions and silence of his own campaign that McCain should blame for assassinating his character. Allowing his Vice Presidential candidate to fan the flames of hatred against Obama was a brazen attack on McCain's character, not the quote by Lewis. Moreover, I fail to see why the McCain campaign would want to defend the supporters that McCain is now taking the microphone away from. The McCain supporters that Lewis was referring to are not cheering for the "kinds of reform that will put America on the right track" unless the right track is to undue the Civil Rights Movement and reinstall Jim Crow-era legislation.

I hope the audiences reaction in Minnesota gives McCain pause. He was booed by his own supporters for defending Obama against false and baseless ideas. He was booed for describing a U.S. Senator as "a decent man." McCain looked generally surprised at the crowds reaction, just as surprised as his female supporter seemed when he snatched away the microphone and said, "No ma'am" after her false belief that Obama is an Arab. McCain shouldn't have waited until three weeks before the debate to squash these baseless and misleading rumors. It shouldn't come as a shock to McCain to learn the unfounded beliefs of his supporters, or that they would respond to his statements with anger; they haven't been quiet about their beliefs that Obama is Muslim, Arab, a traitor, etc., nor have they been quiet about their strong aversion towards anyone who supports him.

While I applaud McCain for finally taking a step in the right direction, I wish his stance would have been more resolute. After "No ma'am," he should have squashed the rumors with more tenacity: "Barack Obama is not an Arab. He is not a Muslim. Anyone who tells you otherwise is dead wrong." A statement like this would have sent a firm message to his supporters and the right-wing radio commentators; yet, still allowed him to keep his McCarthyism tactics alive with respect to William Ayers.

He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

Finally an honest statement from a politician.

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