Dear Senator McCain:
As the 2008 election cycle comes to an end, there are some things about you and your campaign, that I would like to comment about.
I have always admired you for your courage, your independent thinking and your apparent ability to work with people of different philosophies and ideas. The smear against you in the 2000 election campaign was disgusting at best and I commend your ability to stand up to it and bounce back.
Then came the current Presidential campaign cycle. You changed. Even if you were made to change by your handlers, you changed. It’s YOUR campaign and YOU make the ultimate decisions.
Your campaign slogan was “country first.” That’s a perfectly sound slogan except you didn’t follow it. For starters, you let your slogan and the whole concept of patriotism be used in ways that suggested that the “other guys” did not put country first, nor were they patriotic. Senator, that is not putting country first.
You picked Sarah Palin to be your running mate. No matter what you say about her and how much you defend her, what most Americans saw in her was an inexperienced, unprepared politician who was thrust into the limelight without much groundwork. With so many other qualified potential candidates in the republican party, your choice of Palin was simply ridiculous. Senator, that is not putting country first.
You lectured Barack Obama about strategy and tactics during the first debate. Yet while running your own campaign, you seemed to throw everything that came your way to fend off his surge. If Obama’s association was so important, why didn’t you bring it up earlier? Instead of letting your running mate deliver divisive comments like “he palls around with terrorists,” you could have made a solid case about why this association could be so damaging to the United States. You simply reacted to low poll number. Senator, that’s not putting country first.
At the height of the financial crisis, you suspended your campaign and headed to Washington, all the while claiming that it was not a political move. Yet, even while accusing Senator Obama of “phoning in,” all you did was spend time on the phone with your colleagues at Congress. Nothing you did was apolitical. Senator, that is not putting country first.
Despite being the target of one of the most vicious campaign attacks in 2000 and despite vowing to never run a dishonorable campaign like that, you engaged in exactly the same Rovian tactics to attack Barack Obama. In this tremendously important election amidst a grave economic crisis, Americans are looking for a unifying leader, not a divisive one. Yet, you ran a campaign that became increasingly divisive, angry and derisive. Senator, that is not putting country first.
I am writing this as a big number of Americans are casting their votes in this election. A victory for Barack Obama would be a very important occasion for the United States. It would provide a refreshing start that America needs after eight years of an unpopular and ineffective President. It would be a huge disappointment if Obama loses. In the unlikely event that he does lose, it will be interesting to see if the victor will be McCain ’00 or McCain ’08.
And Senator McCain, if you are not successful on your bid to become the 44th President of the United States, I hope you go back to the US Senate and work towards correcting some of the mistakes that you made during your campaign. After all, your greatest virtue, you honor, is still with you. Your story, heroism and service to this nation is still extraordinary. Don’t let anything or anybody change that.