Who would have thought that John McCain would finish his political life as a cry baby whining about the unfair media? Who would have thought that a young senator from Chicago would embody the stature we associate with national leadership, while the war hero dwindles into the persona of a carping old man complaining that the media, the world, the weather, the gods... whomever, are giving him a raw deal.
Obama looks, acts and talks in a manner that IS presidential. McCain looks, acts, talks, in a manner that IS small minded, petty and frankly embarrassing. He has lost this race and knows it. We are now seeing his mean and self-pitying side. (I say this as a lifelong Republican who worked to get McCain elected in the 2000 primaries.)
Presidential contests are all about comparisons. This contest is no different. What is different this year is that there has been a total role reversal: the new candidate looks seasoned and the old hand looks inexperienced. The young man from Chicago bears himself with military discipline and honor and the old vet carps like some ill favored vindictive shrew.
Perception matters. That is one reason that the Republican Party made such a huge mistake backing W. He never had what it took to even look like a leader, beginning with his woeful lack of command of the English language. Policy aside the theater of the presidency is a big factor in gaining respect for our country all over the world and for providing direction at home.
For 8 years we have had a small man who looks smaller each day trying to lead this country. Policy aside, he hasn't been up to the part. Now we see the failing (and flailing) McCain presenting a side that is the embodiment of the sickness that plagues the right wing of the Republican Party: maudlin paranoid self-pity.
The right has been in charge for over 30 years now, but to hear the members of that embattled fraternity talk they are a perpetual persecuted minority, constantly conspired against by other ungrateful Americans, foreigners, and malevolent forces who exist in a shadow land of bizarre conspiracy theories.
It is no wonder their man -- W -- ruled by fear. Fear is the only emotion driving the right, fear punctuated by bouts of rage. Enter the new fallen sadly diminished McCain.
The latest right wing fantasy is that the media is somehow cheating McCain of his due. Can't Americans see the real McCain? Don't they get it? He is a hero! What else matters? It's the media's fault that McCain harassed and goaded Obama into making a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. And then the media made Obama look good! Must have been some sort of trick!
It is the media's fault that while Obama was being greeted by 200,000 flag-waving Europeans in Berlin the Republican candidate chose to stumble around the condiment isle of a supermarket. It is also the media's fault that McCain can barely finish a paragraph without appearing to be a zombie unable to read his teleprompter or remember the most basic geography.
It is the media's fault that Obama is tall, well spoken, calm and statesmanlike.
It is the media's fault that McCain looks like an angry penguin.
What a dirty trick to have such an attractive (and tall!) candidate with ideas most Americans respond to up against the angry penguin! What a dirty trick to have the American people favor the Democrats just because the Republicans started an unnecessary war in Iraq, are loosing a necessary war in Afghanistan, have run the economy into the ground, driven our energy policy over a cliff, failed to enact the environmental protections that would have addressed global warming and cut our dependency on oil!
How ungrateful of the American people to want a president who looks, acts, thinks, talks as a president must, has the world back in the American corner -- just by virtue of his historic candidacy -- opposed the biggest mistake we have made since Vietnam, inspires a whole generation, exudes intelligence, compassion and competence, and happens to be the most inspiring figure in our political life to emerge in the last 100 years.
If the media wasn't liberal and in love with Obama they could figure out some way to make the angry penguin look just as attractive. Bias!
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back