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McCain & Palin: The Judas Pathology

October 18, 2008

What measure of “figurative silver” caused Senator McCain and Governor Palin to malign the character, culture and patriotism of their opponent Senator Obama? Did the powerful dream of controlling the White House blind them to the danger? Perhaps the envy or thirst for power is the fuel for their poisonous rhetoric. At this juncture, it appears the tactics are in large part failing. Perhaps, among many Americans, there is a sincere interest in matters of more importance as the nation struggles on many fronts. Perhaps many Americans also realize that: “When the message is cloaked in darkness, beware the messenger.”

Much has been made of the tactics that have been employed by both the Democratic and Republican campaigns this political season. There can be no denying that like the campaigns of years past there have been unsavory statements and implications put forth which were regrettable. Although the line may be obscured according to our individual ethical standards, this political season has the Republican candidates risking it all while repeatedly wandering into unquestionably dangerous territory. What they risk will likely do them more harm than the one man they seek to defeat. Should they lose, their political futures may well be at risk.



The polarization between Republicans and Democrats may well be more stark and passion-infused in this election than it has ever been. There are nuances and social implications which are both new and somewhat unfamiliar. Still there is nothing truly frightening or unsettling about a new face or a new direction. At least not according to the many Americans that take a modern and reasonable view of both political candidates and political contests. This has been borne out by pundits, polls and predictions. For others it is apparently too much to understand or accept that the United States of America is now actually the wonderful social experiment that it was designed to be.

Being a largely optimistic person, I am generally challenged to allow myself to descend into negative thought. Admittedly, I have read and heard recent comments from the McCain/Palin camp, their supporters and surrogates that were both pointed and troubling. The comments and reactions have been well covered in the media. The implications are unmistakable. Some of us have lived through political tragedy and understand the dangers of a troubled individual when introduced to the emotional madman within them.

I do not know that Senator McCain and Governor Palin are bad people. What I do know is that they are repeatedly employing their unsavory tactics with bad intentions. It may be blind ambition which drove them to characterize Senator Obama as a subversive and knowingly conjure up the worst within people for their personal gain. Among those in their base there are no explanations required. Obama is the one that they pointed out and he must be stopped. But who among us can really speak to the many negative reactions among all of those angered or fearful of tragic possibilities that the Judas Pathology welcomes. Who among us is responsible for the emotional burden that Senator Obama and his family must now endure? They did not deserve this treatment. Nor did the many Americans of good intention and character who must wrestle uncomfortably with that which they cannot control but to which they are being repeatedly exposed.

rogue politician?

rogue politician?

No matter the prize, how could anyone publicly sell their soul and rest comfortably with the excuse that “it’s just politics.” What is worse, they seem to be committed to continuing this course although the dangerous potential impacts have been repeatedly and openly discussed. Is it not enough to say that they want Americans to have answers or further information about their opponent? Certainly that point can be made without raising the images of domestic terror or Osama Bin laden. Is it not enough, in the worst of cases, to subtly spark the flames of myopia and fear and walk away? Their continuing effort to defend the indefensible and to deny these openly despicable tactics has saddened many of us and again tainted the traditions of American Presidential politics.

kicking the dog?

kicking the dog with ambition?

Congressman John Lewis was the first well know opposition figure to cross the line in response to the ongoing practices that McCain and Palin have undertaken. He was wrong in his assertions and I believe he understands that given his later apology. The problem is that in some quarters of the Democratic base, those comments are being echoed and those impressions were actually being discussed even before Congressman Lewis spoke out. Here we find the beginnings of full circle racial division in some, that this historic political contest symbolically transcends. This is the further danger and potentially broad negative impact of the McCain/Palin demonization strategy. As they publicly incite their base using fear and vitriol they are also fueling a subsurface reaction in elements of the opposition base. Perhaps the underlying racial bias that certainly exists in some may have laid dormant had McCain and Palin not kicked the proverbal “sleeping dog”. I don’t know if such logic removes the real dangers but I do know that large open gatherings fueling displays of anger that go unchecked are wrought with disastrous potential. This dangerous potential is now visible and marking a return to memories from dark days of the past. This darkness highlights the remaining presence of lingering social problems within our country.

I am left to wonder if in a parallel universe this contest might have been conducted without the impacts of negative social characterizations. In such a place might some of us have had an easier time reaching some level of respectable acceptance? Might some people simply be left unhappy with the outcome rather than fearful and angry? I was in that place four years ago, and eight years ago. It was bad, but it was not dangerous for anyone.


Judas Pathology

Senator McCain must bear the responsibility for all of this. He and Senator Obama are colleagues in the United States Senate. When his colleague stood in his path to greater power, McCain turned on Obama in the most vile and dangerous way. Should McCain lose, he will return briefly to the Senate a sad and broken man. Should Senator McCain achieve his goal, there will be more than a single political corpse to bury. There will also be a partially-divided nation and a groundswell of social resentment against the new President of the United States. That will be the cornerstone of his presidential legacy. What measure of “figurative silver” is that worth? There is a price to pay. There is always a price to pay.

Beware the messenger.

L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker

One Comment leave one →
  1. RyanPulito permalink
    November 19, 2008 5:49 am

    Thank you. So eloquently put.

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