Friday, October 24, 2008

Never Have I Ever

It's a bit late for this, I realize, but I wish we would hear less about Joe the Plumber and more about McCain's truly shocking comment during the final debate. I refer, of course, to the one about ACORN, which "is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." Someone should be pressing McCain on just what he means by that.

The message to the base is loud and clear enough. If McCain loses the election it will be "one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country" and may "destroy[] the fabric of democracy." Of course, he didn't actually say that in so many words. To have come right out and said so would be so completely outside all acceptable discourse as to mark himself as deranged. He has to maintain some sort of plausible deniability. But the message to the base is loud and clear.*

And let me be loud and clear here. I am old enough by now to have seen some ugly elections and some sore losers. Some of the sorest losers, I regret to say, have been on my side of the divide. All too many disappointed Democrats blamed John Kerry's defeat on Diebold fraud in Ohio. Many, with more justification, have questioned the legitimacy of the 2000 election, the Florida recount, and Bush v. Gore. And many Republicans questioned the legitimacy of the Clinton presidency because he never received a majority of the vote. But in all cases the candidate has conceded the outcome and endorsed the result.

In all the low, dirty, underhanded elections I have witnesses in my lifetime, never have I ever seen a Presidential candidate in a nationally televised debate (or any other venue) so much as hint that if he loses the election, the result will be illegitimate, let alone that his defeat may "destroy the fabric of democracy."

*Just for the record, I do not believe that if McCain loses the election, he will go on TV to call it t greatest voting fraud in history, proclaim the fabric of democracy destroyed, and call on his followers to take up their guns and head for the hills. If McCain loses, he will no doubt do what all defeated candidates do; call in to congratulate the winner and make a suitably gracious concession speech without meaning a word of it. But plenty of members of the base will heed the earlier message and act accordingly.

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