And McCain's supporters aren't any better.
Eric Schmeltzer, Huffington Post:
Are you proud, John McCain? This is your campaign. In your quest for power, you threw out your morals, your principle, your past disdain for low-ball gutter smears. And now we know the reaction it has incited.
Are you proud?
In New Mexico, you asked the crowd, "Who is the real Barack Obama?"
"A terrorist!" a voice in the crowd shot back, clearly getting the message from this weekend, when your running mate falsely said that Barack Obama had "Palled around" with a "terrorist" and "doesn't see America" the same way nice white Americans do.
"Hitting again and again on Bill Ayers and his flimsy connection to Barack Obama, a member of the audience yelled back, "KILL HIM!"" we're told.
Fan-freakin'-tastic, John. I know you want to win, but at this point, there isn't much chance of that. Barack Obama stands a real good chance -- an "only a fool would bet against it" chance -- of becoming the president. And you're training your supporters to hate him as a criminal and a terrorist.
"Country first" my ass. This is John McCain first all the way. Any honor he had going into this, any benefit of the doubt, anything that set him apart from the sleaziest Republican running a deplorable House race in the reddest of districts is gone. John McCain no longer deserves any of it. He has disgraced himself.
Glenn Greenwald describes McCain's New Mexico appearance this way:
...John McCain -- speaking in New Mexico -- delivered one of the ugliest, nastiest, most invective-filled personality attacks a major candidate has ever delivered, blatantly designed to stoke raw racial resentments and depict Obama as a Manchurian candidate funded by secret Arab Terrorist sources -- a truly unstable and hate-mongering rant filled with lines like these, delivered with an angry scowl to screaming, howling, booing throngs, while Cindy McCain stood behind him shaking her head in disgust at each fact she heard about the Black Terrorist daring to challenge her husband...
A run-on sentence worthy of Faulkner, sure, but that's what happens when you're livid and typing. John McCain the Hero is gone. This man -- this bitter, angry, hate-filled man -- has eaten him alive. Desperate in what must be his final chance at the presidency, McCain has let Sen. McNasty take over. Any principle he might have had, any sliver of conscience and shame, is gone now. Jekyll is dead, only Hyde lives now.
Which kind of takes the mystery out of who will show up to the debate tonight -- we'll get another dose of Sen. McNasty. The format is "town hall." Pre-selected audience members -- undecided voters -- will ask the questions. This format is generally seen to favor McCain, but the last debate was seen as McCain's to lose also. He did. High expectations aren't a good thing in these debates.
The question isn't whether McCain will be a prick tonight, so much as in what way he'll be a prick. Will he be the alternately sullen and animated McCain from the first debate or the new, more hate-mongering McCain? If it's neither, how will viewers take the disconnect between McCain at the debate and McCain on the stump? I don't see how it can be seen as anything other than two-faced, cowardly, and dishonest. McCain has painted himself into a rhetorical corner, having nothing left to run on but the slim hope that he can get everyone to literally hate Barack Obama. If he tries that tonight, it's the first debate times 10 and McCain loses. If he doesn't, then he doesn't seem to have the courage of his non-convictions and McCain loses. Long story short, McCain loses.
Shoveling more dirt on McCain's chances tonight is the economy. Remember, the questions will be those of undecided voters. Many will likely be about Iraq or terrorism, none will be "Why does Barack Obama suck so much?" and most will be about the economy. McCain loses.
And no one deserves it more. I'd thought that McCain had gone as low as he could possibly go when he accused Obama of wanting to teach sex ed in kindergarten. I was wrong. McCain's campaign has taken the lowest road, embracing anonymous anti-Obama email smears in a big ol' bearhug. McCain has fallen back on the worst aspects of modern Republican campaigns -- division, smears, and accusations of treason.
"An Obama victory could signal a fundamental correction in the course of American politics, one that could last for decades," writes Gary Kamiya in Salon. "If McCain wins, it will mean that all the forces that led to the rise of modern conservatism -- racial resentment, unthinking anti-governmentalism and hatred of 'liberals' -- still reign supreme. And that would force us all to stare into a national chasm, one deeper than any since McCarthyism."
In the new John McCain's world, everyone is an enemy but those on John McCain's team. The media are out to get him, his opponent is a terrorist, and Obama supporters are evil. If we take John McCain at his word, if we believe that the way he runs his campaign is the way he'd govern, then his America would be a dark and evil place, as paranoid and divisive as Bush's and crueler still.
It's a little frightening that there are enough idiots in America to keep McCain above 40% -- let alone 10% -- but there aren't enough to win. I guess there are a lot of morons out there who are incapable of learning, who'll make the same mistake over and over and over -- the nation be damned -- because the liberals are bad and must be punished. A population of the stupid, the gullible, and the eager to hate. As these voters become all McCain has left, he becomes more and more like them. Cruel and idiotic, obsessed with the trivial while the most pressing issues fester ignored. John McCain is a broken man, damned by his own ambition to become the ideological twin of those worst of Americans who don't just disagree with others, but oppose them in the purest sense of the word "hatred."
This version of John McCain can't win tonight's debate for the same reason he can't win the election; because it's unthinkable.