John McCain’s integrity, the GOP’s IQ

Once again, I’ve demonstrated my ability to foretell the future.

It happened while Terri and I were watching the Democratic National Convention. The delegates were celebrating like conventioneers, dancing in stupid hats, waving stupid signs and generally behaving in ways they wouldn’t at home.

“You know,” I said, “we’re watching this thinking it’s great to see people so enthusiastic, and next week we’ll be watching Republicans do the same thing and thinking, ‘Look at that bunch of effing zombies.'”

As I write this, it’s a week later, the last day of the Republican convention. John McCain has just taken the stage, the camera is panning across the crowd, and I’m thinking, “Look at that bunch of effing zombies.” (Minus one, as it turns out: Fleetingly, the camera caught someone holding a sign that read “McCAIN VOTES AGAINST VETS.” True—his record is far from his rhetoric in that regard—but the protester stood alone among the zomboids.)

That, plus the lickspittle response to Sarah Palin’s low-info speech the previous night, leads me to an unavoidable conclusion: Republicans are simpletons.

I know, I should soft-pedal that. We’re all going to work together after we finish ripping each other’s guts out. Even as I type, McCain is talking about holding out his hands to people from across the aisle, of bringing different ideologies together. Refer to George W. Bush’s promises to be a uniter, and you’ll get the idea.

How long will that hold? Two sentences: “Reach out” was still echoing in the hall when McCain resumed ranting about the “do-nothing crowd in Washington.” (Where, it seems fair to mention, he’s been resident for nearly three decades.) A couple of paragraphs on, after assuring us of his concern for struggling American workers, he fell back into standard Republican rhetoric, boasting of taking on “union bosses.” Sure thing, John. Bust up that commie-style collective bargaining that’s given us OSHA, vacations and weekends, and our factories will challenge the sweatshops in China.

He slipped in the mandatory code words. “Culture of life,” he said, code for “Reverse Roe vs. Wade.” If there’s one phrase that ought to strike terror into the hearts of Americans, it’s “McCain Supreme Court.” “Empower parents with choice,” he said, code for “abandon the inner city schools,” and thus the children of parents who can’t or won’t game the system.

From there, he veered into pure bullcrap, flat-out fabrications comparing his (largely mysterious) plans to Obama’s. Listening casually as I wrote, I heard five, possibly six, statements in about three minutes that were either lies or ignorance on a par with his mocking Obama’s recommendation that drivers keep their tires pumped up. That simple, painless step, experts agree, would save more energy than we’ll get from McCain’s “Drill here! Drill now!”

Yet, still, the simpletons cheered, except when they were supposed to boo, and then they booed on cue.

That McCain will bend facts until they snap isn’t a surprise. He’s demonstrated over a half-dozen years that he’ll say anything and do anything, even embrace the people who humiliated him in 2000 and 2004, to make himself president.

That so many people, so late in the Bush disaster, are still either willing to believe or unable to reason, though, makes me fear for the future of democracy. It shouldn’t be as easy to discard the past as it seems to be shaping up to be.

“If you find fault with our country,” McCain said before he began the odd, Howard Dean-like outburst that ended his address, “make it a better one.”

I intend to try, and John McCain doesn’t figure into my plans.