I have often said that losing this election will be the best thing that happened to the Republican Party in the last 50 years. It would be like an addict “hitting bottom” – the fear-mongering, patriotism-baiting, sound byte slinging, demagoguery dependent, hysteria-feeding, monolithic thinking, avaricious forces that have increasingly poisoned the GOP would be shown no longer to work.
They would have to be purged. An accounting of morals and priorities would take place. Actual values and philosophies would replace the unthinking commercialization of those terms.
We may be seeing its beginnings now, as increasing numbers of conservatives shove aside the mind-numbing, red meat baggage that calculating smear merchants have piled on Obama’s character. They’re ignoring the media branding, going to the facts and using that virtue they so famously hallow – independence. And despite the Reverend Wright distortions, the Muslim knee-jerk terror and the endless, topsy-turvy drivel about Obama being an elitist – despite all the calculated and cold-hearted slander for political purposes – this group of late converts is listening to the man.
Some are liking what they’re hearing. Former Congressman and actual maverick, Wayne Gilchrest, is among them, as he cross the aisle to endorse Obama. A former National Review publisher and William F. Buckley disciple has followed the footsteps of Susan Eisenhower and done this as well.
Others are long-time supporters, like Hagel and Lugar, who have taken up a recent cause: Reacting to John McCain’s seemingly limitless, morally disgusting lies.
Hagel and Lugar both had to defend truth, decency and Obama today when McCain began to spread the lie that the Illinois Senator had a secret meeting with Iraqis to prolong and worsen the war. They informed the media that there was nothing secret about the meeting – a number of US officials, such as ambassador Crocker, were there, and there was nothing insidious or contrary to US policy happening either. Temperatures have since been running hot.
And it is this constant lying that has conservative commentators beginning to protest. So far, it is happening in small numbers, but significant ones nevertheless. Outside the hate-based slop on talk radio, right-wing pundits are beginning to feel the truth is being bent too much for them to support the man appointed to champion their policies.
Ross Douthat at The Atlantic takes particular issue with the McCain camp’s winging about how Palin needs to be protected from the media. But it is Richard Cohen, a former ardent supporter of McCain like myself, that has the most emphatic and eloquent reaction to McCain’s distortions:
McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains — his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that’s all — but just as honorably. No more, though.
“No more” is right. And many on the Right are coming to feel that. It is a hard thing to admit one’s appointed champion is not worthy of one’s values; to denounce him.
But it is necessary for the survival of those values.