John McCain’s defense of Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, from wingnut attacks was a refreshingly nice act of courage. The problem is that it’s news.
People like Michele Bachmann and their minions are always with us; you can go back through campaigns throughout American history and find idiots and fear-mongers at every turn. The McCarthy era was the first one on TV and seems to the benchmark, but it’s the baseline — in more ways than one — for modern campaigning. And this one is not going to be any different.
Yesterday the Romney campaign announced that in reaction to the questions about Mr. Romney’s tax returns and his career at Bain Captial, they were going to “take the gloves off” on Mr. Obama, bringing up drug use and cronyism in Chicago. This is old news — we heard it all before in 2008 and it obviously didn’t work then — but it does make Mr. Romney one with the hard-right base of the GOP, which is what he needs. The problem with that is that it won’t win over anybody else.
It’s also shows the difference between the two men who faced Barack Obama in a presidential election. John McCain had a lot of flaws as a candidate, and I’m really very happy that he is still in the Senate, but at least he had the courage to face down the rabid nutsery and refused to go along with their lunacy. When faced with the same opportunity to turn down the rhetoric — a woman in Bowling Green, Ohio, referred to the president as a “monster” — Mr. Romney demurred, saying essentially, “Well, I wouldn’t go that far….”
The man is a coward, pure and simple. We know he hasn’t got the courage of his own convictions — pro-choice/pro-life, pro-gay/anti-gay, pro-healthcare reform/anti-healthcare reform — all in an attempt to make himself what someone else wants so he can win. But this is even more craven. Mr. Romney is afraid of his own followers, and that’s not something to aspire to as a leader.