I am not suggesting the race is over. Not by a long shot. And I will be working a 12-hour shift on election day as a pollwatcher in Sanford, Florida. (I have a feeling its necessary.)
But something has changed. Or maybe its me who has changed. For months, I have been battling (friendly-like) with my McCain friend in West Virginia. He would send me the latest smear attack from FAUXNEWS or RedState, and I would respond with articles from legitimate news organizations or funny YouTube videos catching McCain contradicting himself. But ever since the wheels came off on the ST Express, my friend has been grasping at straws like so many of his friends.
He argues with me that the number of McCain signs are proving his man is making ground, or pointing to the "polls" done by McCain's people that show PA and Iowa tied. But what he was most proud of was the following. And that is what changed me.
"They are going to blitz your state with these ads soon".
He sent me a link. It's McCain's latest ad. It begins with the phrase "The last eight years haven't worked so well have they!?"
(Considering my friend was an ardent Bushie, I was floored that he was so proud of McCain trying to throw W under the bus.)
But as McCain was talking, and rambling on about drill baby drill or whatever, and as I was about to compose a response--I noticed something...
Dear Lord, he looks so old....and so tired.
Please understand that I don't mean this as an insult. It's just that the realization hit me.
I used to respect this man. I thought he had a compelling personal story, was fiercely intelligent, and at one time stood up for his principles. I loved how he went after Bush in 2000. If the primary in Florida hadn't been so late, I would have considered voting for him and even supporting him.
But now, I pity him. I will pray for him. It is going to be so tough for him to lose this election. He has worked so hard, sucked up to Bush so much, and even threw away his reputation.
Just imagine if he had actually stuck to his principles:
1. Deep down, he has always hated Bush. But he felt he needed his base and wanted to win, so he reversed most of his positions and sucked up to him so much he became Bush's lap dog.
Consequence: He got what he wanted. People now associate him with Bush. Now that Bush is going down as the worst prez in history, McCain is NOW vicously attacking him--but its too late.
2. McCain, I truly believe, wanted to run an honorable campaign based on the issues. He himself said that if any of his opponents primarily run negative ads, that would mean they had "no direction" for the country. He also remembered the Bush/Rove smear of his own daughter in SC in 2000. But then McCain started sinking in the polls. He hired a Rove disciple, Steve Schmidt, to take over his campaign--a man whose mentor attacked McCain's own family. Schmidt ran the Rove playbook well--nonstop smear of your opponent and play to the base.
Consequence: McCain went along with every vicious lie--and sold his integrity little by little every time. The playbook of calling into question your opponents patriotism and even outright lying (Protecting kids from sexual predators meant Obama wanted to teach sex ed to kids??) didn't work the way it did in 2004. As a result, the few people supporting McCain can't even tell you what he stands for, and everyone else is turned off by the lies, anger, and hate from his campaign. He not only is losing the election--he lost his honor and reputation in the process.
3. McCain even allowed Schmidt to bully him into picking a yokel he met for less than 15 minutes instead of his first choice, Joe Lieberman.
Consequence: Palin has been an embarrasment and nonstop drag on his ticket.
Just imagine--if McCain had run an HONORABLE campaign based solely on the issues.
Just imagine--if he truly was the maverick he claimed to be and told Schmidt to shove it and picked Lieberman or someone halfway competent that he knew and respected.
Just imagine--if he did what he wanted to do years ago and tell Bush to stuff it (instead of doing it a week before the election).
Although I'd still fight against him because of the issues, the Supreme Court, and the fact that we need a Democrat in the White House to clean up the mess after Bush--I do believe that McCain would be neck and neck in the polls right now.
And even if he lost, he could say that he lost with honor, dignity, and grace. He could hold his head up high after the election, and he would still have the respect of millions like me.
But after the election, he will come to the realization that, in his twilight years, all that honor he had worked so hard to build, the reputation he worked so hard to restore after the Keating scandal, and all the beliefs he had sacrificed: gone.
I don't hate McCain anymore for what he's become. I'm NO LONGER ANGRY.
For the first time, I didn't respond with a lengthy diatribe against McCain. I told my friend that anything is possible and wished him luck. I pray for my friend, who will most likely suffer the pain I felt election night 2004.
I will pray for our great nation, and pray that President Obama will fulfill his promise in bringing all of us together to move past this partisan hatred.
But most of all, I will pray for the man he is working so hard for that I believe will not just experience a profound disappointment on election night, but suffer the rest of his days for what he has become.
Tonight, I pray for John McCain.