It’s been that kind of week for John McCain. Obama gets an endorsement from Gen. Colin Powell, McCain gets one from Al Qaeda. No kidding.
More and more Republicans with hearts and brains are jumping ship because they see a ship wreck ahead and don’t think McCain will make a very good captain. Once the “brilliance” of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate wore off, the stupidity and self-serving shortsightedness of it set in. As Obama began to look more and more like a President for the times, Palin began to look like a President for the End Times. Last month, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote a column for the National Review calling on Sarah Palin to withdraw from the ticket.
In recent weeks conservative commentators like Christopher Buckley endorsed Obama, as have Barry Goldwater’s kin from McCain’s home state and Arne Carlson, former GOP governor of Minnesota. You’ll find more endorsements on a prominent website called Republicans for Obama.
In addition to a long list of Republicans who favor Obama, the website offers an articulate endorsement of its own:
"We need a leader who can lay the foundations of another American Century—someone who can get past our partisan and ideological divisions, as we strengthen our standing in the world and tackle the challenges we face at home. We need a leader who understands our differences, but who also knows the importance of finding common ground. While we continue to debate and address many issues on which we all have strong opinions—abortion, gay rights, the relationship between church and state, to name a few—we need a leader who can command the support needed to break our government’s paralysis and meet the growing challenges we face as a nation.
"Senator Obama is the one candidate who can unite the American majority that wants to move forward and improve the long-term economic well-being and independence of our nation."
In other words, they believe Obama is more functional, more able to navigate us through the problems of the times. Newspapers seem to agree. Many that endorsed George Bush four years ago have gone for Obama this time. These include two Texas papers, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin-American Statesman, as well as the Denver Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Kansas City Star, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and even the Salt Lake Tribune, which wrote:
"Out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.”
Could it be said in any plainer terms? By a newspaper with a highly-conservative and largely Mormon constituency, no less? But the endorsement goes much further than condemning McCain:
"Still, we have compelling reasons for endorsing Obama on his merits alone. Under the most intense scrutiny and attacks from both parties, Obama has shown the temperament, judgment, intellect and political acumen that are essential in a president that would lead the United States out of the crises created by President Bush, a complicit Congress and our own apathy."
That says it pretty plainly. Obama is functional, and we need functionality right now more than anything. Among those who are able to see past their partisan loyalties, the distinct differences between McCain and Obama as leaders are apparent. As of last Friday, newspaper editorial endorsements have favored Obama 58-16. Thus far, 26 papers that backed Bush in 2004 now support Obama.
Your Handy-Dandy-Last-Minute-Political-Conversion Kit
So what does this all mean? It means that there is an opportunity and an opening over the next dozen days to speak to friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances who have emotional, spiritual and political intelligence and who are of the Republican persuasion. I’ve been engaged in several of these conversations, and here’s what I’ve found:
Surprisingly, but not surprisingly, a number of the Republicans I’ve spoken to have an affinity for Obama. And why wouldn’t they? He’s firm, he’s pragmatic, he’s inspiring as a leader, a uniter not a divider. In demeanor, he is a conservative. However, their considerations include:
• They don’t know that they can trust him. He’s a Democrat, after all.
• They’re concerned he will bring “socialism,” whatever that is.
• They HATE and DESPISE and yes, I said “hate and despise” Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and all the other straw man liberals. Their fear is that a Democratic majority in Congress plus a Democratic President will bring about socialism. How exactly do they define “socialism” and why are they so afraid of it? I dunno. That’s why they’re Republicans. You’ll have to ask them.
Mainly, their dislike of Democrats (and boy, do they HATE Michael Moore ... there’s even a sick, sick movie out right now where a Michael Moore type character gets beaten up and abused because he’s campaigning against the 4th of July) is based on the impropaganda that’s been drummed into their heads that liberals hate America. It makes no sense whatsoever to argue against this belief. It makes more sense to recognize that their hatred of liberals is on par with the way so many progressives despise George Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin.