But I’ve always found McCain odious--an impression that’s only deepened with his selection of Palin as his running mate—and listening to Obama these days has been one cringe moment after the other. On Monday of this week he criticized McCain’s “Drill, drill, drill” mantra, by complaining, and I quote, “What kind of slogan is that?” Are you kidding me? Is that as deep as the criticism goes: “What kind of slogan is that?” Is the message here, “Vote Obama/Biden: We’ve got better slogans”?
Clearly his vaunted brain trust is fumbling badly (and remember this is a candidate who, when asked what qualifies him to be president, proclaims proudly that he’s run a national campaign), so I thought I’d help the brother out a bit with the following speech, just to show him it’s possible to utter progressive sentiments minus the mealy mouth pandering and gratuitous swipes against the poor, which have become his stock-in-trade. And he’s free to use any or all of the words below gratis and without attribution (which we know he knows how to do).
You’ll have to imagine it delivered in the uncertain accent and faux meaningful pauses that characterize his style on the stump these days:
Thank you for coming out today.from the professor
As most of you know, I didn’t get into politics the usual way. I started my political life as a community organizer. Now I know that some people don’t think much of being a community organizer (wait for knowing laughter). Some people think it’s trivial. A laughing matter. That’s their opinion. They’re entitled to it.
But there’s at least one thing you learn from being a community organizer. You learn that when the powerful people in the country--the president, the CEO, yes even the governor or the mayor--have made their big decisions, posed for their photo ops, and delivered their press releases, it’s the less powerful people who have to try to live with the consequences of those decisions. It’s the people without power who have to pay when factories close, when jobs are exported over seas, and when funds that should be going to schools, roads, and bridges go instead to stadiums and sport complexes.
Once you’ve seen up close how dearly real people have paid for the decisions made by those in power, it’s not something you forget easily. So I began this campaign with a simple idea: Wouldn’t it be better to govern from the standpoint of all those people who’ve had to pay dearly for the decisions made by those who’ve held power in this country for so long? Isn’t that what this country should be about? Isn’t that what democracy is about? (See, Barack, no need to bash the poor to make this point.)
Now there’s another party in this race. You may have heard of it. It’s the Republican Party. The leadership of that party has held power over the country for eight long years. And in holding power they’ve remained faithful to one idea, one guiding principle. This idea, this principle, has been that come what may—come war, come hurricane, come fiscal crisis, the party’s wealthy friends and supporters would never pay. And they’ve remained faithful to this promise. As US soldiers and the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan have paid with their lives, the Republican leadership has softly reassured its well-heeled buddies, “Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay.” As levees have failed, bridges fallen, and pension funds foundered, the Republican leadership has continued to croon the same soothing lullaby to its wealthy friends, “Don’t worry, we’ll make someone else pay.” And, by God, have they ever.
And now after eight years of making the rest of America pay; after eight years of lying to the American people, soiling the nation’s reputation in the eyes of the world, bankrupting its finances, and neglecting the environment this same Republican Party leadership is standing before the nation, like an abusive spouse on the doorstep, saying “Baby, give me another chance. I can change. I have changed. I promise. Look, I’ve even nominated a maverick.”
But they can’t expect that line to get them over can they? John McCain? Change? For John McCain to represent change he’d . . . well, he’d have to be a Democrat because the bottom line is that if you want change this year, you have to put another party in power, and that party is the Democratic Party (See Barack, the post- or nonpartisan crap isn’t necessary)
As for John McCain, he once believed the Bush tax cuts were irresponsible, now he wants to make them permanent. He once believed that global climate change was an immediate threat, now he wants to drill for more oil. He once believed that the Religious Right as represented by Jerry Falwell was a force of intolerance, now he embraces these ministers to his bosom (and Barack, I know you’re kind of soft on the ministers as well, you upright Christian, you.)
I suppose you can call all of this change. But it seems to me that the Republican Party Leadership has changed John McCain. Not the other way round. Senator McCain couldn’t even get the party to accept his first choice for the vice presidency. Hell, if John McCain can’t change his own party leadership, how in the world is he going to change the country?
I stand before you representing a party committed to governing on behalf of those who’ve had to pay for the corruption, the greed and the criminal misuse of our armed forces. I stand before you representing a party committed to seeing that those who have abused their power, violated the laws of the land, and abused the public trust will be held accountable for their actions. You, the American people, are owed a full accounting of what has been done in your name for the past eight years. You need to know whose rights have been trampled to the dust in the name of national security. You need to know who has been tortured in backrooms with the approval of the men and women you trusted to uphold the law. You need to know all of this. Not for vindictiveness, but for justice—the justice necessary for healing. The nation must be healed, but for this healing to take place the poison of eight years of Republican leadership must first be drawn out of the body politic like poison is drawn from a wound (all props to Gandalf/Tolkien/Peter Jackson).