Anger on the Right at McCain

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caligula and horse twn.jpg
More and more conservatives — real conservatives — are abandoning John McCain. They respect his service to the nation. They revere him for his patriotism, his POW past, his willingness to break with party leaders to do what the country really needed at key moments.
But the anger about McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate is substantial.
There is evidence of this all around — but lately, former AEI scholar and conservative attorney Allan Gerson’s interesting piece on why Jeanne Kirkpatrick probably would have supported Barack Obama adds to the chorus.
But something that is very off color and that I should discreetly report is what one of the most well-known conservative commentators in the world said to me privately in Chicago. I won’t report the name of the individual, but he/she said:

What are we to think of McCain’s choice of Palin? It’s outrageous — an insult to the nation and an insult to everything the man has supposedly stood for all his life.
McCain’s decision is right up there in the history books — right up there with Caligula appointing his horse to the Senate.
No self-respecting conservative can support McCain now.

I want to make clear that I do not agree with this commentator. Sarah Palin is Governor of Alaska. There are actually far, far less qualified people that John McCain could have picked to run with him. Joe the Plumber comes to mind.
But I offer this comment from a well-known conservative personality as a benchmark of the anger out there in Bush Land about John McCain.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

36 comments on “Anger on the Right at McCain

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    DavidT…that should be “snarkiness”

    Reply

  2. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    DavidT…my favorite sparring pal..if people talk, that could be good…maybe the art of civil discourse will be contagious…but I would miss POA’s splashes of spice if he were to go all mushy on us…if anyone can convince we skeptics, your civility surely can….thanks for the link to our unfinished conversation…I ran into a mucho busy patch and then smack dab into a pile of ‘Bradely effect” right in my own backyard, so I’m still patching my brain back together….I’ll continue in the $150 million thread because I think it ties into what bothers me about not picking Hillary for Veep….and snakiness towards her former supporters, like Gov. Rendell…I’ll have my head back tommorrow., birthdays, relatives in hosptials, blah ,blah. I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date….

    Reply

  3. DavidT says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    Have to stop meeting like this, don’t want people to talk :). Here’s the link to the blog post of my most recent response to you various comments on this blog
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2008/10/more_on_the_phi/
    Again, appreciate your tone and effort to be intellectually honest and share your feelings in a candid manner without fear that I’ll jump all over your well-thought out views (even if they don’t always comport with mine :)). I also appreciate that you treat my views and best efforts at intellectual honesty in a respectful manner.
    In fact while you may disagree, and there may be examples you’ve seen that suggest otherwise, this is one of the elements of Senator Obama I most appreciate. He is running a tough campaign and campaigns in American politics these days are not for the weak of heart. Nevertheless he does his best to take the views of those that may not be natural Democratic constituencies seriously and refuses to marginalize those views or demonize them.
    Thanks so much for the Cleese and other Palin link. I loved it. While it wasn’t complimentary to the Governor I didn’t find it dripping with contempt which is an approach I dislike.
    In the spirit of sharing links — and this one may be asking a bit much from your time — but I think its a terrific illustration of the Obama view of the world — in trying to understand the views of others outside his usual social circle.
    Its from the latest New York Times Magazine.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/magazine/19obama-t.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
    Take care. Hope you’re starting to see the Obama light :).

    Reply

  4. carol says:

    John McCain lost his respectabiity a long time ago….his campaign has been vile and uncalled for. By all means oppose and point out your differences about your opponent….but to incite so much anger and fear is totally wrong.
    I think McCain will live to regret the campaign he has run and will have made many enemies across the country because of it.
    If you are going to lose in the end at least you know you would have done it with dignity and for the right reasons….not just to win at all costs no matter what!!!
    Very sad campaign for McCain….I think he has lost the respect of a lot of people.

    Reply

  5. Kathleen says:

    DavidT…this is what John Cleese thinks of Palin
    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/103511/ I saw your continuation of our dialogue on “overconfidence” but didn’t have an opportunity to reply before the thread disappeared…will do soon in another thread…wanted to think about it more…

    Reply

  6. Kathleen says:

    DavidT…this is what John Cleese thinks of Palin
    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/103511/ I saw your continuation of our dialogue on “overconfidenc” but didn’t have an opportunity to reply before the thread disappeared…will do soon in another thread…wanted to think about it more…

    Reply

  7. DavidT says:

    Thanks for the insights from the conservatives. I admire those who have the guts to express openly their views on their own party’s nominee. There are many valid criticisms of Senator Obama and I respect political activists, particularly those who make the criticisms that don’t play to the party faithful (i.e. that the Obama campaign should talk more about what its going to do on the deficit and more about the sacrifices that will need to be made).
    However I don’t see in the quote you provide the word “qualified” used by the conservative. So I assume you don’t consider it an insult to the American people that McCain chose Governor Palin. I don’t know why.
    Additionally, even if the conservative used the term “qualified”, that you feel Governor Palin is not amongst the least “qualified” to be vice president perplexes me. I suppose it depends what you mean by qualified. If you mean the years of experience or the position they are in, perhaps. By that measure Dan Quayle (who looks like da Vinci in comparison to Sarah Palin) was better “qualified” than John Edwards as a vice presidential nominee.
    I believe one’s qualifications are not solely the position they’ve obtained or the years of experiences they’ve had, but also their judgment, their temperament, and their ability to process, analyze, and balance the advice of the “experts” in helping them make decisions. On that basis I’m not sure what you’re argument against the conservative is.
    With the utmost respect (as a fan), you may be closer to things going on in the McCain campaign than I am. It may be that the Governor is an invaluable source of deep analysis and wisdom in aiding Senator McCain. If so, I’m sure she’ll be looking for support for 2012. Now might be the time to offer your help :).

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “POA where is Tahoe?”
    I think his ears got caught, and he is unable to extract himself.
    I warned him. You NEVER mingle with the GOP unless you have a packpack full of vaseline.

    Reply

  9. dalivision says:

    Being a little sarcastic..
    POA where is Tahoe?
    Nothing personal just sarcastic here…..

    Reply

  10. arthurdecco says:

    “It is a huge mistake to impute integrity and principle to any conservative.” bob h
    I think you’re being a bit unfair, bob h. True conservatives, as opposed to the vermin presently claiming leadership of conservatism, are no less privy to integrity and principle than those inhabiting other parts of the political spectrum.
    Though I never forget: “”Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” John Stuart Mill

    Reply

  11. David Gerard says:

    I saw McCain at the Al Smith Dinner and it was like, this is the 2000 McCain back again! This is the real deal! Not the Rove-controlled robot that’s been making a hash of the campaign so far.
    By crikey, if McCain had just been himself this campaign, Obama would have had a serious fight on his hands.
    I’m confident whoever gets in we’ll get someone competent for the job. The prospect of President Palin, however, is right up there with the prospect of President Quayle.

    Reply

  12. bob h says:

    “the anger out there in Bush Land about John McCain.”
    The only thing they really hold against him is that he is behind and likely to lose. Had he picked Palin and now been ahead in the polls, these same conservatives would be applauding him as a genius.
    It is a huge mistake to impute integrity and principle to any conservative.

    Reply

  13. glennmcgahee says:

    Luckily, there are a lot more Democrats mad at the DNC that are voting for Mccain that will make up for any conservative anonymous commentators mad about his Palin pick. Many Americans are ready for a candidate that will challenge their own Party unlike Obama and Credit Card Joe. I know you guys think you are the most important people in the world. I think otherwise.

    Reply

  14. rapier says:

    When the topic of unqualified modern era VP’s comes up then let’s look at the gold standard. Truman. Not only was he unqualified Roosevelt never talked to him or even prepped him in the tiniest way as he was surely dying.
    At least Truman was humble and understood his limitations. Palin on the other hand embraces her limitations as a strengths.
    The Joint Chiefs would laugh her right out of the room if the time came and it would have nothing to do with lack of military experience. If I had one question to ask McCain in front of a camera it would be does he have in mind any first mates he wants to make Admirals?

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  15. ... says:

    JohnH – thanks for the comments which i always find bang on and insightful.. i am glad you post here..

    Reply

  16. rich says:

    The only reason Sarah Palin inspires anger is, with her on the national stage these conservatives are finally getting a good look in the mirror, and can for the first time see themselves for who they really are.
    And they don’t like what they see. They don’t like what they have become. And they don’t want to take responsibility for the tactics they’ve used or the mob mentality they’ve fomented.
    So they’re punishing Sarah Palin for what has always been true about themselves.
    Caligula? What’s ‘outrageous’ here is we’ve had the most high-handed, lawless and self-indulgent Prznts & VeePs in history. We’ve had DeLay, Frist, Kristol and Kissinger-as-Wormtongue. What was McCain supposed to do, nominate Dick Cheney?
    The outrage is that the gutlessness of your anonymous conservative is so overt, so hypocritical, so Orwellian: no outrage for the past 8 years, but somehow it’s John McCain’s judgment that’s in question?? Somehow Sarah Palin’s the problem? Even though she uses the same tactics and wields the same with-us-or-against-us Vaterland rhetoric George W. Bush did?
    The selection of Sagrah Palin is not the issue.
    John McCain is the issue: his record, his virtually incoherent embrace of George W. Bush and his adoption of Karl Rove’s campaign tactics. His rigid adherence to GOP economic and the failed war in Iraq just make no sense at all. In the wake of Enron, Iraq fiscal malfeasance and the current mortgage meltdown, McCain still embraced Phil Gramm deregulation and Reagan trickle-down snake oil. McCain still plays the mortgage disaster for cheap political points.
    Why is any Republican angry with John McCain? McCain’s only using their cherished GOP policies, adopting their own robocalling and race-baiting and ‘treason’ cryin scapegoatin’ tactics.
    How can They be angry with Him? It’s their own fault. At best, this is transference; at worst, they’re evading all responsibility for their own complicity or more accurately, culpability.
    It’s a bit hard to specify a response to an anonymous conservative. But Bush’s monumental self-indulgence was Caligula-like in its rejection of co-equal branches of govt; it was insulting and lawless and he might as well have appointed his horse to lead the Senate and a burro to run Homeland Security. It was decadent as hell, regardless of his specific foibles.
    Reagan and H.W. Bush and George W. wrote the playbook McCain and Palin are following. How can they complain? Tell the Big Lie; race-bait; call your opponent un-American; robocall; incite fear and xenophobia and don’t ever repudiate dirty tactics–just pay lip service and do it anyway.
    Conservative pundits/columnists are equally to blame. How can they not like in Sarah Palin what they loved in Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush? Complicit and culpable, it suddenly looks uglier coming from Sarah Palin, and they don’t want to be associated with . . . their own work.
    It’s true John McCain has lots of work to do: with 18 more days to go, he has to come up with at least 7 or 8 more economic plans.
    Very, very unimpressed that some conservatives are finally catching on to the basic outlines and bitter fruit of their own work.

    Reply

  17. fencesitter says:

    If the economy is the first priority, then someone must stop this madness of distributing 10% of the bailout money to the top WS bank executives.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/17/executivesalaries-banking

    Reply

  18. Ben Rosengart says:

    I like the Caligula comparison. It’s occurred to me too.
    Vote “nay” on Sarah Palin.

    Reply

  19. Mr.Murder says:

    “6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”
    Sun Tzu, Chapter II, Waging War,
    English translation, Lionel Giles, 1910.
    Think the history major in the White House could ask McCain to brush up on the topic?
    Perhaps more fluid a translation can be offered in your link below this, Steve.

    Reply

  20. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    Bill R.:
    McCain’s slogan was the “tell”. If McCain really put country first, he wouldn’t need to brag about it at every turn. It’s like the BS that Wolf Blitzer spouts constantly about “The best political team on TV”. If you were really that good, you wouldn’t have to shout it. If you were really that good, or were all about country first, people would see it in your actions. People that talk like Wolf/CNN or McCain usually are the most lacking in what they claim to be.

    Reply

  21. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    Jake:
    Seriously? You link to the US Chamber of Commerce? Are you a Republican? They are the most disgusting organization in the US. They’d destroy the country in the pursuit of profit if they could. They are a pox on this country.

    Reply

  22. varanassi says:

    Tahoe???
    i really miss your prescient commentary.

    Reply

  23. kovie says:

    I’m guessing that Alaska voters are less stupid than they are some combination of Goldwater-style western “rugged individualist” conservatism (at least in their imaginations), which is why they tend to vote GOP, and apolitical cranks who just want to be left alone so long as their roads are paved and they get their annual oil profit welfare check (which is of course precisely what it is, seeing as the lower 48 are subsidizing them), which “small guvment” Repubs tend to promise more than hippy-dippy tree-hugging libruls.
    Ok, so they’re stupid, but in a particular sort of way, the way that Reagan-style Repubs tend to be.

    Reply

  24. PeterG says:

    Regarding Sarah Palin’s campaign remarks that certain parts of this country are more pro-American than others: Is she including herself and her association with her husband as a member of the anti-American Alaskan Independence Party promoting succession from the United States of America? Since in her sense of logic, if you associate with one (e.g., terrorist), you are one (a terrorist).

    Reply

  25. Tony C. says:

    I considered the possibility that Steve was being sarcastic, and
    apologize to him if that was the case. But frankly, it does not
    appear to me to be so cut-and-dried. If it’s meant to be sarcasm,
    why add this further qualification?
    “But I offer this comment from a well-known conservative
    personality as a benchmark of the anger out there in Bush Land
    about John McCain.”
    Either Steve agrees with the person quoted, or he doesn’t. Which is
    it?

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Tony, Steve quickly and definitely identified the Plain nomination as unserious and insulting to the electoral process about as soon as it was made.

    Reply

  27. Bill R. says:

    Steve, sometimes you say things that astound me. I happen to know someone well who has served in extremely close proximity to Sarah Palin. From his account I can safely say that Sarah Palin is the most pathological personality we have ever had this close to the presidency. And qualifications, zip, zero. Shortly taking the governorship she goes to the capitol building and looks on with puzzlement, saying, “Which is bigger the senate or the house?” Apparently she could see Russia from Wasilla, but not Juneau.
    The voters of Alaska are utter idiots, Sarah Palin, Ted Stevens, and Don Young. That’s the fruits of their elections. Sarah Palin was put in line by John McCain, a very sick and aging man, to be next in line to step into the most powerful position of power in the world. He should be forever judged and held accountable for that decision. It is an utter betrayal of his country, and of any claim to integrity he might have previously made.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, Tony, give Steve a break. You don’t recognize sarcasm when you see it? Where the hell does Steve “defend the choice”???
    Obviously, he was being facetious when he said “There are actually far, far less qualified people…”, as his reference to Joe The Plumber underscores.
    Personally, I think Palin was a great choice, if it keeps this old retrobate McCain out of the Oval Office. I think Romney might of assisted McCain in pulling it out of the hat, as might have Lieberman. And in all honesty, Lieberman as VP scares me almost as much as Palin does. Or maybe more.
    But these “debates” here at TWN are ignoring the great skill the GOP has at stealing elections through massive voter fraud. Remember, these fucking criminals in the Bush Administration are still in place. It would not suprise me in the least to see McCain “win” this election, despite the polls. We might actually get to be governed by a vindictive winking bimbo religious wackjob. It will be interesting to see how THAT nightmare ends up.

    Reply

  29. Tony C. says:

    “”…There are actually far, far less qualified people that John
    McCain could have picked to run with him…”
    Sorry, Steve, but it becomes increasingly difficult to take you
    seriously when you write things like that. Are we to believe that
    you consider Palin to be anything close a responsible choice?
    That’s certainly what you imply with the comment above.
    But of course the salient question is not whether or not there were
    worse choices available, it’s whether there were significantly better
    choices available. And the answer to that question, as you know
    full well, is a resounding “yes”.
    It truly boggles the mind that you would actually defend the
    choice…

    Reply

  30. carsick says:

    “…There are actually far, far less qualified people that John McCain could have picked to run with him…”
    I laughed so hard I cried… and then I just cried.
    But it could be far, far worse if my eyes bled…and my ears too and then I fell into a coma.
    For me, there is no recovery from McCain’s choice. He takes leadership of my country with less respect than I treat citizenship.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I won’t report the name of the individual, but he/she said……..”
    Matthew Dowd?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/14/bush-strategist-mccain-kn_n_134570.html

    Reply

  32. Don Bacon says:

    JohnH,
    Excellent, succinct analysis, on not only McCain but the situation in general. I like the line: “At the federal level, you have to internalize the world of defense contractors, Big Oil, Wall Street, and Big Pharma”. That truth explains the demise of democracy and the current downward spiral of Team USA.

    Reply

  33. JohnH says:

    Indeed, Republicans are not rallying around McCain. It’s partly because of his mindset, which is that of a beer distributor (wonder who he got that from?) Being on the side of beer distributors, real estate developers, and like-minded businesses gets you elected at the state level. At the federal level, you have to internalize the world of defense contractors, Big Oil, Wall Street, and Big Pharma. Bush came from old money, so he moved easily in these circles. McCain never integrated so seamlessly with the Big Money movers and shakers. Add to that his questionable religious credentials, and it’s no wonder it’s been an uphill battle for him.

    Reply

  34. pacos_gal says:

    Another thing you have to think about is that a lot of just conservatives were disappointed when McCain won the nomination.
    I don’t know if I’ve ever read about as much dissatisfaction within the Republican party before as I have this year. Usually that is reserved for the Democrats. This election however, the Republicans were never really rallying around their candidate as in previous years.

    Reply

  35. Mort says:

    The “conservative personality” is ….[Drum Roll please!] ……..
    Robert Novak, the Prince of Dahkernesse.

    Reply

  36. Jake says:

    Sad, that the debate and the important issues they taked about are all being overshadowed by Joe the Plumber.
    John McCain, isn’t much of a true conservative, or at least not by todays standards. But, he is all they got, and I really doubt they will vote the alternative.
    Regarless of who wins this thing, the next president has to be clear in his priorty to fix the economy. I signed this petition to send a message to the 44the president. .
    http://friendsoftheuschamber.com/email/44_email.html
    . . the message is clear. The economy FIRST.

    Reply

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