Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Christophers for Obama: Buckley and Hitchens
The Nation --

This is how bad it has gotten for John McCain.
Even the defenders of the Iraq War are deserting the Republican nominee who once thought he might "surge" into the Oval Office.
Yes, he has lost the Christophers.
In recent days, he has lost both Christopher Buckley and, now, Christopher Hitchens. Both have announced their plans to vote for man who opposed launching the Iraq War: Democrat Barack Obama.
First, Buckley, the apple-did-not-fall-from-the-tree son of William F., writes a column titled, "Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama," in which he writes:
I have known John McCain personally since 1982. I wrote a well-received speech for him. Earlier this year, I wrote in The New York Times--I'm beginning to sound like Paul Krugman, who cannot begin a column without saying, "As I warned the world in my last column..." -- a highly favorable Op-Ed about McCain, taking Rush Limbaugh and the others in the Right Wing Sanhedrin to task for going after McCain for being insufficiently conservative. I don't--still--doubt that McCain's instincts remain fundamentally conservative. But the problem is otherwise.
McCain rose to power on his personality and biography. He was authentic. He spoke truth to power. He told the media they were "jerks" (a sure sign of authenticity, to say nothing of good taste; we are jerks). He was real. He was unconventional. He embraced former anti-war leaders. He brought resolution to the awful missing-POW business. He brought about normalization with Vietnam--his former torturers! Yes, he erred in accepting plane rides and vacations from Charles Keating, but then, having been cleared on technicalities, groveled in apology before the nation. He told me across a lunch table, "The Keating business was much worse than my five and a half years in Hanoi, because I at least walked away from that with my honor." Your heart went out to the guy. I thought at the time, God, this guy should be president someday.
A year ago, when everyone, including the man I'm about to endorse, was caterwauling to get out of Iraq on the next available flight, John McCain, practically alone, said no, no--bad move. Surge. It seemed a suicidal position to take, an act of political bravery of the kind you don't see a whole lot of anymore.
But that was--sigh--then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, "We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us." This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget "by the end of my first term." Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
Then, Christopher Hitchens, erstwhile former Nation columnist turned Iraq warrior, writes a column headlined: "Vote for Obama: McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace."
Like Buckley, Hitchens is embarrassed by McCain as a candidate and as the man who has attempted to put Sarah Palin one heartbeat away from the presidency:
Hitch argues deliciously that:
McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.
I suppose it could be said, as Michael Gerson has alleged, that the Obama campaign's choice of the word erratic to describe McCain is also an insinuation. But really, it's only a euphemism. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear had to feel sorry for the old lion on his last outing and wish that he could be taken somewhere soothing and restful before the night was out. The train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases--"My friends"--to get him through the next 10 seconds. I haven't felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot's running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America's most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn't qualify him then and it doesn't qualify McCain now.
The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: "What does he take me for?" Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her--her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations--were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party's right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama's position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.
It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.
These are important statements, especially as expressions of concern about McCain's dwindling capacity and their dismissals of Palin.
They form the intellectual underpinnings for a rational rejection of the Republican ticket by mainstream Republicans and independents--and with it the prospect (though not the certainty) of an Obama victory sufficient to allow him to actually govern.
Buckley actually provides the language for those who may not ever be Obama enthusiasts, but who may be Obama voters:
"Obama has in him -- I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy "We are the people we have been waiting for" silly rhetoric -- the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
"So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I'll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America."
So, despite letting McCain off the hook for plenty of past nastiness, and a few snarky bits here, like calling a phrase Obama used "airy-fairy", it appears both these Christophers are voting with their conscience, and setting aside personal pride or ego, and party loyalty.
And, since we're on a roll with Republicans, I hope you enjoyed the clever video with Ronald Reagan (Big Thank You to poet Cecilia Woloch for alerting me to this video!)asking the question you undecideds should be asking. The answer could not be clearer.
Peace, kids.


DeadMule said...

Great video, Lisa.

Lisa Allender said...

Thanks, Helen. Like I mentioned, poet Cecilia Woloch sent me a link to it. I was thrilled to get to post it!