McCain 9/11 stunt transparent
For some time, I pondered asking my writers to reflect on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in this week’s Commentary Magazine. After solemn consideration, I concluded that such a tribute would appear trite and probably crass. It would be better to let the anniversary pass with quiet dignity than to arrange some obligatory tribute. There is nothing new that could be said, I thought; all that is left for us is to calmly commemorate that sad day seven years ago. Then, Sept. 4, with abject disregard for decency, the Republican Party aired a video pontificating about the continuing danger faced by the United States. It served as an introduction to Sen. John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican nominating convention.
The film featured a narrator recounting the fear and anguish of that day over ominous piano chords. Images of terrorists flashed on the screen, followed by footage of the World Trade Center towers being struck and collapsing, rescue workers sifting through wreckage, and families mourning their losses along with a traumatized nation. The entire base pageant was a transparent attempt to convince voters that McCain is America’s only hope of averting another such catastrophe.
After months of sanctimonious patriotism on the campaign trail, the GOP climaxed in the most despicable political exposition in my memory. McCain’s address spoke of altruistic devotion to country and abnegation of personal interest. Whoever was responsible for the preceding travesty spat upon such devotion, however. The Republican Party’s pretense of offering change and selfless service can only rightly be met with ridicule. If McCain had any remnant of the valor he displayed decades ago or the independence he has trumpeted in recent months, he would have refused to speak, would have stood in silent in protest of the 9/11 video. Instead, he spoke before the American people, condoning the rank exploitation of pain, fear and noble sacrifice for the benefit of his political career.
I have long considered myself a cynic, but I have seen that I was being naïve about the Republican Party. I have often talked about equanimity and respect for the legitimate opinions of others, and hoped that I could achieve as much in political discussion. My parents taught me to disparage Republicans, but I have endeavored to circumvent the biases with which they imparted me and foster an enlightened discourse. But I can no longer muster any respect for McCain and his party.
The questions about Sen. Barack Obama are real. Some have legitimate misgivings about the Democratic candidate’s sincerity and qualifications. But there can be no question about his opponent after the nauseating display of Sept. 4. The perfidious politics of the last eight years will continue if McCain is elected. He has taken up the Bush administration’s feculent precession of bogus patriotism. The RNC video was nothing short of contemptible. McCain’s pledge later that night to “end partisan rancor” rang utterly hollow in its wake. Obama, by contrast, has shown the courage to stand up and admit that a flag pin is a meaningless token, an insult to true patriotism. It is with this in mind that I stand behind Obama. Notwithstanding his faults, he is a paragon of maturity in comparison to his opponent.
I hope that my outrage does not seem overwrought. I have struggled to find words that can express my disgust. Everyone who witnessed the 9/11 attacks understands its gravity, and I hope that by extension we can all grasp the profanity of the Republican Party’s tactics. That party has not hesitated to abuse the memory of 9/11 in the intervening years, and it has refused to jettison its offensive posturing amid all its promises to fix national politics.
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