This Way to the Apocalypse, Mr. McCain
I sometimes feel a great deal of pity for John McCain. He really seems like a super guy -- someone you could sit next to at a bar and toss back a few with while swapping amusing stories.
He has served in Washington during some of the most consequential times in our nation's history and been a leader of some stature among the small group of lawmakers who appear to take a realistic view of America and her role in the world. He has supported presidents of both parties when they took this nation to war
And for a politician, he is relatively honest and doesn't seem to be infected with the disease of greed that afflicts so many on Capitol Hill. I'm not sure about the "Straight Talk Express" being all that "straight," but McCain has proved over the years to be governed by a set of principles and has generally stuck with them.
In short, there is much to admire in John McCain. We know his life story -- his service in Vietnam and ordeal as a prisoner of war, his emotional homecoming, a divorce, a remarriage to a very attractive, very rich woman. He is, in many ways, as familiar and as comfortable as an old shoe; a reassuring presence on the national stage who no doubt would make a good president.
But in truth, it appears from where I'm sitting that history is about to deal Mr. McCain a very bad hand. John McCain has the rank misfortune of being a Republican in what almost every expert is saying will be a most Democratic of years. The public is wild for change -- almost an "anything would be better than this" mentality that means the Democrats could put up a pie-eyed prostitute as a candidate and probably win.
More than 80% of the nation believes the country is headed in the "wrong direction." Think about that for a moment. Is there anything else in the history of the United States where 80% of the people agreed about anything?
I'll bet less than 80% of Americans like ice cream. I would wager that less than 80% of Americans like McDonalds hamburgers. And I'd bet the farm that less than 80% of Americans like old re-runs of The Carol Burnett Show even though I believe you have to be brain dead not to recognize its brilliance.
About the only thing that 80% of Americans might agree on is that they like sex. I asked Sue if she thought that was true:
ME: Hon, do you think more than 80% of Americans like sex?
SUE: (Glaring at me) What is this, a trick question?
ME: No dear, it's just that 80% of Americans think we're on the wrong track in this country and I was trying to think of something else 80% of Americans would agree on.
SUE: Are you talking about like, sex in general or like sex with a specific individual?
ME: Um...do I want to know the answer to that?
With so many Americans believing the country has gone off the rails, it won't matter that John McCain is a war hero or a fine senator or a man who promises a steady hand on the tiller of the Ship of State. All that will matter is the great big Scarlett Letter "R" after his name on the ballot.
The polls don't reflect the fact that McCain is facing a landslide loss of historic proportions. At the moment, he trails Obama nationally by only 7 points in the latest Gallup poll. But head to head polls at this point are meaningless. The undercurrents of history are revealed in what issues the American people think are most important and which party they believe is best able to deal with them.
In this, there simply is no contest. Every major poll lists the three most important issues facing Americans as the economy, Iraq, and health care. According to the latest Rasmussen survey, Americans who name the economy as the number one issue favor Obama over McCain by an astonishing 59% to 33%. Those who thought Iraq-national security was the number one issue favored McCain by an equally lopsided margin of 61% to 35%.