We see evidence of Republican anger everywhere. We see it right here at the Cincinnati Blog, where every post that comes close to touching on the presidential campaign spurs a commenter (generally known as "the Indiana troll") to make dozens of comments, most of which were cut-and-pasted from right-wing websites. We see it at Republican rallies, where McCain supporters recently have begun calling out disgustingly unacceptable epithets. We see it in the ads that John McCain, an
The Republicans' anger is understandable. Their candidate is, after all, a genuine war hero--a scarce commodity in American politics these days. He's been in the Senate for decades. He's widely considered to be a moderate, the kind of politician who should be broadly appealing. His opponent, on the other hand, is a first-term senator who never served in uniform but still dared to run for office while the nation is at war; moreover, at a time when Americans are more suspicious of outsiders than they have been since, perhaps, World War II, he has an exotic-sounding name and background. Had one described such a scenario four years ago, it would have been laughable that this could even been a close election: McCain should be leading by double digits.
The Republicans are angry because they aren't just losing this election; they're losing their grip on the American electorate. Today, FoxNews (yep, that's right, Fox) released a poll. Like every other poll, it puts Obama in the lead (46-39). But the "internals" are what must be particularly disheartening for Republicans. Of those polled, 52% said they trusted Obama more than McCain (32%) to handle health care; 50% trusted Obama more than McCain (35%) to handle the economy (the most important issue for 49% of those surveyed); 45% trusted Obama more than McCain (40%) on energy independence; 46% trusted Obama more than McCain (41%) on taxes; and 42% trusted Obama more than McCain (40%) on cutting government spending. With respect to the war on Iraq, only 47% trusted McCain more, while 42% trusted Obama more. 46% think the Democratic ticket has "better judgment" than the Republican ticket (39%). That the Democrats have the confidence of the voters on so many issues (especially taxes and cutting government)--and that the Republicans are believed to be better able to manage the Iraq war by such a slim margin of voters--would have been unthinkable a year ago.
As Democrats, we can feel the GOP's pain, so to speak. After all, we felt much the same way eight years ago. Then, our candidate was the sitting Vice President, part of an administration that presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. His opponent was a relatively inexperienced governor whose primary claim to the office seemed to be genealogical. The Democratic base was furious about the campaign our candidate ran, just as the Republicans are angry with what they see as a lackluster McCain campaign today. Back then, we got angry. We questioned the Republican candidate's intelligence, even though he had degrees from Ivy Leagues institutions. We attacked his family. We made inquiries into his past that had no bearing on whether he was now qualified to lead. And we still lost.
Eventually, the anger will retreat a bit, and we will all sit down together and work through the serious problems we face. In the meantime, though, Dems should be tolerant of their Republican friends' anger; we've been there and done that. And Republicans should remember that they're not the first to be on the losing end of an election that they didn't think they could lose, and it won't be long (for Congress, two or four years, and for the White House, four or eight) before they're back on top again, wondering why we're so angry. So let's try to weather the next three-and-a-half weeks with some dignity, and make sure we can all hoist a beer together on November 5, once this election is over.
UPDATE: Earlier today, John McCain remembered who he was and why is so admired by so many from both political parties: he called for his supporters to be respectful. According to this report, he took time during a campaign rally to defend Obama as "a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States." As you all know, I have no shortage of disagreements with McCain with respect to the direction in which this nation should go. But today's events prove that at root, McCain is a classy guy, and I'm glad he remembered that. That's why the second paragraph of this post has been edited.