News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The party of Lincoln becomes the party of Rove

John McCain resisted the torture of his North Vietnamese jailers. He could not resist the dark allure of dirty politics.

Republicans once proudly called themselves the party of Lincoln. Today, they have become the party of Karl Rove.

John McCain began his campaign touting a Senate record of bi-partisan cooperation that earned him the reputation as a maverick. McCain often crossed the aisle to get the job done, much to the dismay of the Karl Rove wing of the Republican Party who would have rather hurt the country than side with a Democrat.

McCain’s bi-partisan reputation helped him win the Republican nomination. Even Republicans were tired of the bitter partisanship that had been so much a part of the Bush years. In February of this year, during the nominating campaign, McCain denounced Cincinnati radio personality Bill Cunningham for his disparaging use of Barrack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. That was the old John McCain, the true maverick and gentleman.

But after Senator McCain won the nomination and found himself trailing Obama, he turned to the dark side. He fired his campaign leadership and brought in the Karl Rove brigade.

The hyper-partisan hacks, who once gleefully hurled the “flip-flopper” label at anyone who had the courage to revaluate their position, convinced McCain he should change his views on many of the bi-partisan bills McCain co-authored that had earned him his reputation as a maverick. McCain did a 180 on taxes, tobacco, and immigration. The same handlers also convinced McCain to choose Sarah Palin when the senator really wanted Joe Liebermann. But the Rovers knew they had to fire up the raw meat Republicans and two moderate candidates on the same ticket were not going to do that, no matter how qualified.

The Rovers were also behind the nasty, pit-bull tenor of the Republican convention speeches on Wednesday. These hate-filled screeds attacked Obama without offering any tangible examples of alternatives. To paraphrase the CNN slogan, it was all negativity, all the time. Look for more Swift Boat smears of Obama and Biden coming up shortly.

John McCain, like so many others, has compromised his principles in his quest for the White House. We now have the sad spectacle of a once-independent senator and public servant descending into the caricature of a mud-slinging flip-flopping politician. John McCain resisted the torture of his North Vietnamese jailers. He could not resist the dark allure of dirty politics.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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