The Maverick Returns (July 28, 2011)

Had I been a Republican during the 2000 Presidential primaries, there is no doubt I would have voted McCain instead of Bush. At the time, the man came off as relatively uncompromised. As a decorated Vietnam veteran and a legislator who had a record (at the time) for rejecting pandering in order to reach across the aisle and get things done, he had my respect. Had he made it to the general election, I might have even considered casting a ballot in his favor instead of Al Gore.

By the time the 2008 campaign rolled around and McCain had morphed into a man who suddenly wanted nothing to do with immigration reform, labeled Barack Obama “that guy,” and selected Sarah Palin as a running mate, effectively putting an idiot one heartbeat away from the Oval Office, I was glad I was never faced with a real opportunity to punch a hanging chad in his favor. Turned out McCain was just like all the rest. He would say or do anything to get elected.

But all it once it appears that the removal of the Holy Grail chase, the end of his POTUS dreams, have freed John McCain to take a real stand where certain issues are concerned. Or it could be that at nearly 75 years of age, he just doesn’t give a shit anymore what anyone thinks.

And so yesterday, I read this report from Yahoo News’ The Ticket: “John McCain Unloads on the Tea Party,” and my stunned heart sang. Not so much because I care about McCain’s rediscovery of his backbone, but I was enthralled because finally SOMEBODY is pointing out the Tea Party Emperors are not wearing any clothes.

I could care less about his pity for John Boehner’s attempts to cobble together a last minute deficit reduction/debt ceiling compromise, but seriously, what’s not to love about quotes like this:

“The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . . Barack Obama,” McCain said, quoting a Wall Street Journal article. “The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.”

“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees,” McCain added, still reading from the article.

Squee!!!! I know he’s basically regurgitating the work of another writer, but the fact that he does so on the Senate floor, with C-Span cameras rolling, provides a tacit blessing to the Journal’s indictment. Like it or not, McCain remains a standard bearer of the GOP and though it is unlikely, this should give pause to intolerant right extremists.

Allow me to quote another Open Salon blogger I greatly admire, a gentleman by the name of Cranky Cuss. I published a post this past Tuesday entitled, “The Party is Over,” where I detailed my general disgust with the current “work” and comprehensive ineptitude of both political factions. That said, Crank offered a fairly prescient indictment of the Republican caucus in particular:

“The Republicans would rather have the nation default, with all the devastation it would cause our already teetering economy not to mention the world economy, than allow Obama to be re-elected. I consider that treason.”

Thank you Mr. Cuss for calling a spade a spade, and grazi Senator McCain, however belatedly, for trying to lead your party by example.

Obama and Romney Campaigns Play the Waiting Game (November 6, 2012)

For those of us who haven’t yet completed our ballots, there’s nothing left to do but vote. Residents of the hotly contested and closely watched swing states must be ready to breathe a sigh of relief, welcoming a return to fast forwarding through conventional television commercials promoting toothpaste, cars and tampons. I wrote these lines last evening on my blog:

T’was the night before the election, and all through Ohio
Margaritas were flowing like Cinco De Mayo.
Because Buckeye State residents were confident no matter who won,
Their days in the swing state spotlight were temporarily done.

After an extremely long and intense campaign, there is something to be said for the collective exhaust of the voting public. On a certain level, before the returns are counted and cable news channels morph into trigger-finger caffeine freaks, ready to call the election at a second’s notice, and before the long-winded pundits begin their Wednesday morning quarterbacking, it’s nice to take a moment and exhale.

We the people have worked hard during this interminable electoral season. While the Wall Street Journal reported that 41 percent fewer television viewers tuned in to see Paul Ryan accept the Republican Party’s nomination for vice-president (versus the near-record numbers of disbelievers who couldn’t stay away from the spectacle of Sarah Palin), and less folks checked out the Democratic presentation as well, it was a banner cycle for the the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “A total of 67.2 million people watched the [first] debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to figures released late Thursday by the Nielsen Co. – a 28% increase over the 52.4 million who tuned in to the first debate in 2008.” It is meaningful that the public remained this engaged heading into the home stretch, suggesting that years of prolonged unemployment, decreased home value, rising fuel and food prices and skyrocketing college tuition led to a certain thirst for voter information.

And despite the endless flip-flopping and shape shifting of Candidate Romney, it was entirely clear that the electorate was left with two very distinct choices: Obama the incumbent, the idealist come pragmatist who displayed fortitude, character and leadership in bringing the U.S. economy back from the brink, ended the war in Iraq, took steps to stem the rising tide of healthcare spending and clarified the rights of gays and lesbians to serve their country without retribution. On the other hand, voters were presented with Romney, the shameless panderer who positions were often impossible to quantify, but in instances of clarity, a return to Bush-era failings was the clear takeaway. Let’s call this agenda the Survival of the Mittest.

No matter who emerges victor (Obama) today is a day for celebrating ourselves and our participation in the democratic process. We survived a tough four years: reducing our household debt, looking for work or clinging desperately to the jobs we have and finally, finally under the leadership of our President, things are looking up. Despite the concerted efforts to disenfranchise voters at the polls, unaffected by the struggles of daily survival, we are the winners today. Our voices will be heard.