As election day draws ominously closer, more and more conservatives are beginning to wonder if John McCain truly has some sort of self-destructive genetic material in his makeup.

These concerns began to grow and fester shortly after McCain named Governor Sarah Palin as his choice for vice president. Note that we mentioned “shortly after,” not immediately, because at first many of us felt McCain’s selection came from some sort of undisclosed strategy that bordered on genius. Was it that the choice of a woman was a stroke of genius that somehow escaped Barack Obama when he embraced Senator Joe Biden? Had McCain spotted some form of intellectual capacity in Palin that the rest of us would later recognize?

As the campaign mercifully winds down to election day, new episodes involving governor Palin attest to McCain’s reputation as an “impulsive, impatient, self-dramatizing, erratic, compulsive risk-taker.” So says the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. The publication notes that Sarah Palin has essentially been “uttering incoherent unscripted responses about the issues of the day.” In choosing Palin, the article continues, “McCain committed an act of breathtaking heedlessness and irresponsibility.” One does not need to read between the lines to conclude that the magazine is italicizing the fact that McCain is 72, has health concerns, and has sanctioned Palin as backup president of the United States.

Then there is McCain’s stubborn allegiance to the wisdom of starting the conflict in Iraq and his belief that our soldiers will come home as victors if only we stay the course. McCain has proudly claimed time and time again that he supports most of President Bush’s policies, although McCain claims there are “substantial differences” that separate the two men.

And, finally, there is the financial imbroglio that began in the U.S. and has now spread worldwide. Many Wall Street pundits now say it will take at least five years for the economy to recover, and that even then, the housing/financial markets will never be the same. Translation: the lives of many Americans have been ravished as have the futures of their children and grandchildren.

While there are a number of reasons for traditional Republicans to switch their votes in November, the one that seems to surface most frequently is: “I haven’t deserted that party; the party has deserted me.” Then there is McCain’s non-reaction to the financial crash. While he predicted that Americans are strong and will eventually triumph over adversity, Obama at least articulated a bare bones policy that many leading economists gave some chance of success. Four more years of current White House policy, the economists say, would turn mere disaster into a cataclysm.

Barack Obama’s platform is not without its serious faults. His claim that 95% of all working Americans will received a tax cut has gone unchallenged, for the most part, by John McCain. Obama also promises to create more jobs for individuals and to help small businesses prosper. These promises were prior to the current financial trauma. But Obama continues to sing this tune even as the markets go from bad to worse to dismal.

We now face, according to an article in the McClatchy newspapers by Steven Thomma, a political landslide by Barack Obama. “The victory,” writes Thomma, “will send Obama to the White House and give him larger Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate – and perhaps a filibuster-proof margin there.” The McCain response has been to rachet up the rhetoric and thus encourage the type of audience outbursts that have occurred recently at McCain rallies. When McCain asked at a recent rally in New Mexico “who is the real Barack Obama?” one man shouted “terrorist.” The gathering was punctuated with other insults from the crowd whenever Obama’s name was mentioned. McCain, during his most recent debate with Obama, called for restraint and civility in future campaign strategies, but the bombast continues by both parties in their latest TV offerings.

Today’s New York Times says McCain is preparing an “underdog speech” in which he acknowledges he is seriously trailing Barack Obama, and that the national media has written off his campaign. The article notes that McCain plans to offer no new economic proposals and that he has no intention of turning against the Bush administration in these final weeks of the campaign by finding fault with its economic policies. The paper compares Obama’s appearances at 95 separate events over the past five weeks, compared to McCain’s 55. The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Obama leading by ten points. To use a football metaphor: the players are about to pour Gatorade over coach Obama’s head.

– CHASE HAMIL

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