Dear Senator McCain:
First of all, thank you for your long service to your country. Your heroism in war and your career as a leader distinguish you in the hearts of your fellow citizens.
However, none of those things guarantee that anything done in the present will automatically be the right choice. Surely you must be aware that many, if not most, American conservatives have strong reservations about much of your political record, especially some of your most recent legislation and the manner in which you campaigned for president last year.
Your failed presidential campaign resulted in the election of Barack Obama, who in just over half a year has drastically altered the shape and scope of our government, by already spending more than every other president combined, by nominating a host of radicals to positions without real accountability, and by seizing the reigns of such fundamental areas of private life as commerce and health care.
Despite such scary changes, you have continued in “town hall” appearances over the summer to compliment and even cheer this president, just as you often did–to the consternation of your party’s base–during last year’s campaign. That irresponsibly inappropriate friendliness was just one of many, many things so critically wrong with your campaign that it was a foregone conclusion long before November that you would lose. And yet you continued on in this manner, ignoring the chorus of voices urging you to fight, to represent the desperate cries for help you heard along the campaign trail.
In short, your stubborn cluelessness as a presidential candidate enabled Barack Obama to win.
That’s why, Senator McCain, I am asking you to apologize to the American people for running for president.
In January of 2008, my wife and I attended a caucus here in Nevada. In the classroom of a nearby high school where our precinct met, I gave a prepared speech for Mitt Romney. Romney carried the majority of votes in that room of about thirty people. Several other candidates were also well represented: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and even Ron Paul each had several supporters there. But only one person in that room voted for you. She was a very nice elderly lady who told everyone that she wanted you to win because she thought you’d look after the needs of senior citizens.
After the caucus, I spoke to a couple of the other people in that room, people who had each supported other candidates than I had. We easily agreed that this campaign was a win-win for conservatives because of the large field of qualified candidates. We could all be happy with each other’s candidates. I went there to support Mitt Romney, but I would have been perfectly happy with a President Huckabee or a President Thompson, for example.
As we walked out to our car, however, I told my wife that there was one candidate in this race that I really didn’t want to see win. That was you, Senator McCain. As you fared so poorly in Nevada that day, we didn’t worry about it. As the year went on, though, we did begin to worry. We worried a lot.
After you became the obvious nominee, I started watching the polls closely, paying attention to those trends and reports that had been most accurate in the past. It was only a year ago, but I wonder now how many people actually remember that the one and only time your popularity seriously rivaled Obama’s–the only time that you statistically had a chance to win–was the bump you got after announcing that Sarah Palin was your running mate.
That stroke of genius even won me over, briefly. But your tepid disdain for her and what she stands for, personally and politically, alienated me from you yet again (frankly, your failure to support her more vocally during the shameful attacks that she’s endured since last November are disloyal at the least, and possibly cowardly). Most of the major talk radio hosts and news columnists on the right supported you and tried to help you win, but their hearts were never in it, and you never gave any of us a reason to believe in you, anyway.
Everything in your campaign, from speeches to debates to your own Web site, pandered to environmentalists, illegal aliens, and those media elites who must have been overjoyed to hear their anti-Bush propaganda coming out of your mouth. You have always presented yourself as a maverick, a rebel fighter, but you campaigned with the energy of Mr. Rogers and the individuality of a cloned zombie. You rarely called out Senator Obama on his disquieting history and tactics, even when large segments of the alternative media provided plenty of fodder, and even when you tried, you were slow and muddled.
Everything about your campaign was ineffective. Everything you did made the radical left overjoyed. They couldn’t have created a better figurehead “opposition” candidate than you if they’d tried.
And you knew it. You’re not deaf. You’re not oblivious. You knew what his political machine was capable of. We all did. And you did nothing. You ran a quiet, placid, normal campaign, and didn’t even seem surprised when you lost. Well, none of us were. Frankly, if you had planned to throw the race, you still would have done everything the same.
You’ve been a great hero in the past, but when you jumped into the spotlight and ran a weak campaign, knowing how high the stakes were, you failed your country. You failed us when we needed you the most.
If you were incapable of or unwilling to run the campaign that was needed to win, then you shouldn’t have run. You should have stepped out of the way and let a better man go in to fight. Any of the other candidates from last year would have run a far better campaign than you did, and most of us always knew it.
You took advantage of the flawed quirks of our nominating process and used it to glorify yourself, and you even did that poorly.
And now we’re all paying the price. We’ll keep paying for your blind hubris for more than three years.
You owe us all an apology, Senator. Do the right thing and accept your responsibility. That show of wisdom and strength now just might be what the conservatives in this country need to draw together and resist the takeover of our way of life that the current administration is perpetrating. That, Senator, could be your legacy, rather than this shambles of a failed campaign that sabotaged our future.
The choice is yours.
North Las Vegas, Nevada
A copy of this post has been emailed to Senator McCain’s office.
Yes. Great letter! I’ve never voted more reluctantly for a candidate than I did for John McCain in 2008.
DC, me too. I actually felt bad for Democrats who didn’t vote for John Kerry in 2004 so much as they voted against George Bush. Alas, now I know exactly how they felt.
Is there any way we can change the nomination process so that a RINO is never nominated again?
Floyd, some people–I’m thinking especially of radio host Michael Medved here, railed against characterizing McCain as a RINO, but my question is this: if McCain isn’t a RINO, then seriously, who the heck is?
I’m not a liberal, but it does bother me when people say things that aren’t true for political rhetoric. Agree with Barack Obama or not, he has not spent more money than every other president combined. Also, some people have been saying that the yearly deficits under Bush have become the monthly deficits under Obama. This is simply factually inaccurate. Unfortunately, facts used by the liberal news media are ALSO often skewed. It has gotten to the point where NO ONE is telling the truth and declaring a political allegiance means swallowing one group’s lies or the other’s. I think this is terrible. I’ve loved some of your other entries and think they are very intelligent, which is why I wanted to point this out. We need good bloggers who research the increasingly difficult to find facts to give us good political opinions! The real news isn’t doing its job and I think the internet is the medium where we can start to try to affect change and demand more journalistic integrity from news media. And from our politicians. It should not be acceptable to knowingly lie in order to sway public opinion.
Charles, you make rational, reasonable points, and your balanced perspective is laudable. Thanks for contributing.