It’s a thing old guys do. Repeat themselves. Only, we like to think of it more as “quoting” ourselves, bringing up for further study some of the particularly fine things we’ve said in the past. It happens a lot when trying to answer youth’s perpetually annoying question, “What in hell are you talking about?”
The question at hand has to do with my observation, near the end of a post yesterday, about John McCain. I said that I’d be more supportive of the man if
instead of making nice with Bush and the Rovians who had smeared him in South Carolina, he had, if not renounced them, at least held them at arms length instead of embracing them.
Okay, I know. Convoluted. “Ifs” and “insteads” all over the place. But the point was that McCain had been smeared by Karl Rove, and in a particularly personal and brutish way.
Rove invented a uniquely injurious fiction for his operatives to circulate via a phony poll. Voters were asked, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” This was no random slur. McCain was at the time campaigning with his dark-skinned daughter, Bridget, adopted from Bangladesh.
It worked. Owing largely to the Rove-orchestrated whispering campaign, Bush prevailed in South Carolina and secured the Republican nomination.
McCain’s response to that was, literally, to embrace Bush at the convention — and repeatedly after that along various campaign trails. The pictures and the stories are all over; I won’t bother to dig one out right now. Point is: a kick-ass, straight-shootin’ Presidential candidate loses his kick-ass straight-shootin’ mojo when he sucks up to a guy who beats him by trying to bad-mouth his family.
- [Necessary aside: “dark-skinned” is not an insult. I have several dark-skinned grandchildren, and I’ll happily step out into the alley with anyone who speaks ill of them. But we’re talking South Carolina here, and because it was a Republican primary, we’re talking white South Carolina. Racial prejudice runs wide and deep down there.]
Now. Here’s the kicker. Karl Rove, the man who fomented the attack, using McCain’s adopted daughter, was on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. (I never watch anything on Fox; I picked this up from Think Progress.) I won’t put O’Reilly’s face or Rove’s on my site, but here’s a transcript of part of their conversation. You can watch the whole thing, in one of your masochistic moments, at Think Progress or at Raw Story.
Rove & O’Reilly
ROVE: I think most of your viewers would be shocked to hear the story about Cindy McCain in Bangladesh, visiting an orphanage. And she has a small dying child thrust into her hands. And the orphanage — the people in the orphanage say we can’t care for her, she’s dying. We don’t know what to do. And Cindy McCain’s impulse was to hug that child to her chest, get on an airplane, and bring her home.
And when she got off the plane, there was John McCain. And he said what do you got? And she said I’ve child who’s dying. We need to get her care. And John said well, who’s she going to be staying with? And Cindy McCain was saying I was hoping she could stay with us. And today, that young child who was near death, is their teenage daughter.
ROVE: I don’t think most people understand the compassion and love –
O’REILLY: I agree.
ROVE: — that would come from a moment like that.
Yes, yes. The compassion and love that would come from a moment like that. A moment like the one when Karl Rove expresses heart-felt admiration for the young woman who — eight years earlier — he pointed to in a racial attack on her father. The McCain family must be shivering in delight.