I'm writing this in a cafe near Market and Castro in San Francisco. The weather is perfect. I see people outside, ordinary people doing ordinary things. Then I turn back to the Internet and cruise through right-wing blogs, youtube footage, news coverage, and I don't know whether to laugh or take my family and run to Sweden.
The McCain campaign is now officially behaving like a cornered animal. Ta-Nehisi Coates, blogging at The Atlantic Monthly, puts it best: "Wow. They're just emptying the clip, throwing chairs, file cabinets, jabbing folks with keys and cell phones."
Thoughtful conservatives (and former conservatives) are starting to speak out against the hate and fear that the McCain campaign is hurling at Obama. It's actually somewhat inspiring, though I think they have waited far too long to speak out. I won't link to every piece here, but I can present a sampler.
David Frum writing at The National Review : "Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting."
Republican Gov. William Milliken: "He is not the McCain I endorsed... I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues."
Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican U.S. senator from Rhode Island: "That's not my kind of Republicanism. I saw what Bush and Cheney did. They came in with a (budget) surplus and a stable world, and look what's happened now. In eight short years they've taken one peaceful and prosperous world, and they've torn it into tatters." As for McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate, "there's no question she's totally unqualified."
Christopher Buckley in The Daily Beast: "John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, 'We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.' This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?"
Frank Schaeffer in the Baltimore Sun: "John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there. Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs."
Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic Monthly: "This election really is a classic battle between fear and hope. All Palin and McCain are offering right now is more fear: fear of a black man, fear of terrorism, fear of the other, fear of Iran, fear of the future, fear of Islam, fear of the truth. And above all: fear of defeat. On that last one, they're rational. Which side are you on?"
*** UPDATE *** Here's how McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers responded today to criticism of their tactics: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo."
In other words: Get ready for more of the same. Is it working? It seems that the answer is no.