Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brief Comeback for Civility

John McCain made a gesture toward decency yesterday, reproaching a rabid supporter by telling an angry crowd that Barack Obama is a "a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

Minutes later, he took the microphone away from a woman who had said she didn't trust Obama "because he's an Arab" and upbraided her, ""No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

It's a measure of the rage that the McCain-Palin campaign has uncorked that such statements are necessary and can be seen as signs of the candidate's own unease. Even Sarah Palin dialed back her rhetoric briefly, but the ceasefire didn't last more than a day.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who lived through the days of segregation and suppression in Alabama, had said yesterday, "What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division."

Today the Karl Rove disciples who are handling the Republican campaign had McCain firing back:

"Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Gov. Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale.

"The notion that legitimate criticism of Sen. Obama's record and positions could be compared to Gov. George Wallace...and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track."

So goes another round of the Jekyll-and-Hyde campaign that John McCain has been running, alternating as an honorable man with a lifetime of public service and a Rovian puppet with Tokyo Rose as a running mate.

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