The Lesson of John McCain

Thursday, October 9, 2008

As reality quickly sets in on McCain and his followers, everything I love and hate about this election and politics in general is on full display. It is becoming more and more difficult not to allow the immense feeling of pride one gets when seeing the first African American presidential nominee be diminished by the ups and downs of a political campaign.

Now, desperate and fighting for his political life, McCain is scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep his campaign hopes alive. It goes without saying that McCain is no spring chicken. This is his one and only shot at the presidency. We know it and so does he. As a result, a desperate man is taking desperate actions. Questions and issues are now becoming out and out race-baiting. My concerns are switching from just questions of whether Obama will win (although, absent some kind of military attack, this is pretty much a done deal now) to genuine questions about Obama's safety. All it really takes is one lunatic with a gun and a split second window of time and we could be in the middle of one of the worst days in US history.

However, many other people are writing about their disgust with McCain and his tactics and rightfully so. I, on the other hand, am taking a step back and looking in the mirror. While most of us will never be in the same situation as McCain, how many of us have thrown our own convictions and beliefs completely out of the window in pursuit of a goal? Money, fame, women, etc. There isn't a person among us who hasn't let our beliefs slip at least a lil' bit in pursuit of something.

This isn't an apology for McCain. What he is doing is deplorable and dangerous. But more than anything, I think its a bit sad and pathetic. Watching this guy literally race to the bottom of the barrel in pursuit of a goal that is getting further and further out of reach has been somewhat eye-opening for me. I think McCain presents us all with a valuable lesson of what can happen if we let our ambitions cloud our good judgment.

McCain wasn't losing this race because he wasn't "getting tough with Obama." He was losing it because the country is in the middle of an economic crisis and he has long professed that he has little knowledge of the economy. His VP pick has no clue either (I am sure he is wishing he had scooped up Romney right about now). Obama and the Democrats have successfully been able to use that against him. The answer for McCain seems obvious - buckle down with economic advisers and formulate a reasonable economic plan. Yet, blinded by ambition, McCain could not see this.

However, it appears that McCain decided to play political games, not realizing that no one cares about that kind of stuff right about now. At last glance, my 401k plan was down around 30%. I haven't even been able to bring myself to check it over the last two days. I couldn't possibly care less about William Ayers and events that happened before I was even born. I want to know what you are going to do now and the polls show that quite a few people agree with me. Why McCain and his team of "experts" can not see this, I have no clue.

No matter what anyone says, there are plenty of Americans uncomfortable with voting for a black man. His relative youth provides yet another knock. All McCain really had to do was give these people a reason to support him and I honestly believe that a combination of old fears and unfamiliarity with Obama would have at the very least made this a real contest.

Instead, he is completely avoiding the issues and attacking Obama. His ambitions are clouding his judgments so much that he can't even pull up long enough to see that this course isn't just not working, its making things worse.

Which is great for me, as I am 100% behind Obama. But, to get back on topic and bring this rant to a close, there is a lesson here for everyone. You can't allow your ambitions and desires to cloud your good judgment. Maybe even more important, you can't allow your ambitious pursuit of something to make people completely forget who you were to begin with. Whether people agreed with him or not, McCain was generally well respected. Now, I'm not even sure you can call him just another politician as I am pretty sure there are quite a few who wouldn't stoop to this level.

We all must be careful not to end up where McCain is. Better to lose with dignity than to ...well... lose without it.