November 6, 2008

McCain’s Redemption

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Though we here at Muckraking for Pennies are delighted to see Obama as the President-Elect, we hope that his massive electoral win will not go to his head. Many a ruler has fallen when his pride and arrogance gets to his head and we would hate to see the man who united the country last night succumb to such follies. But given his behavior up to this point, we have hope he will shift America in the right direction.

But in other news, McCain has already begun repairing his tarnished image, starting with his concession speech last night.

McCain undeniably made several missteps in his campaign, from choosing Palin as his running mate to threatening to pull out from the debate to help with the bailout. But last night America saw McCain act as he should have throughout the campaign–with class.

I remember very little from the presidential primary elections back in 2000, so my only real frame of reference in assessing McCain has come from this election. I didn’t understand his independent appeal as he drifted toward the extreme right. While I knew his stances on immigration and Bush’s tax cuts were in opposition to the main Republican party, I was reluctant to embrace his championing of the free market to fix our economy’s problems. I was especially fearful when he said “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” the same day Lehman Brothers collapsed, kicking off a wave of bank failures.

As McCain drifted more to the right, his supporters only became angrier and that is where McCain needed to really step in and change the course of action. The McCain campaign potentially turned off tons of undecided voters in allowing the supporters at rallies to yell hateful, discriminatory chants. McCain did tell his supporters they had nothing to fear if Obama became president, but the fact of the matter is he should not have created a situation where shouting those epithets was even possible. No one wants to be part of an unruly, crazy mob (well, most people). Even during McCain’s concession speech, his supporters booed McCain as he congratulated Obama.

Nevertheless, the speech was graceful and humble. McCain admired Obama’s ability “to inspire people to vote who wrongly believed they had nothing at stake in this election.” He emphasized the special significance that this election has for African-Americans and recognized the cruel injustices of history that have marred America’s reputation.

But I especially commend McCain for also trying to bridge the partisan divide when he said, “Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”

Perhaps if McCain had run on a platform of unity, he wouldn’t have been making such a speech last night.