Yes, I am referring to the old phrase, "Chickens come home to roost." The political journey of John McCain (R-AZ) has been a sight to behold in the past few years. First he was a maverick, then he was a bitter nay-sayer who was absolutely victimized by George W. Bush's campaign, and then he went full-speed to the radical right to win the nomination for the presidential campaign of 2008.
I knew that he had lost his way, but when he chose Sarah Palin, former half-term governor of Alaska, to be his running mate, the damage was done (although he didn't know it). One cruel wise crack from Palin in her very first speech about the similarities between governors and community organizers (in that governors "have actual responsibilities"), combined with the overt and obnoxious racism of both candidates (Palin referring to Barack Obama as "Sambo") told me everything I ever need to know about McCain.
But of course he didn't just dry up and blow away. He is still around trying to conduct some kind of a political career, hardly knowing what he believes anymore. Americans cannot have confidence in him because he is only slightly less likely than Mitt Romney to change his views.
McCain must have been told that it would be pure genius to harness the Tea Party's restless rebellion and racism, and he rode it as far as it would get him--which wasn't to the Presidency, as we all know. But all the Republicans who courted the nihilism of the Tea Party are now forced to attempt to win their party back from those same people.
Thus it happened that McCain held one of his town hall meetings in the Phoenix area this week. He didn't have a good evening, which we know because he later bit the head off a reporter who asked probing questions about the evening. He made a home run on MSNBC, though, as all the evening news and commentary programs from Hardball to The Last Word featured footage of the debacle of McCain being unable to control his crowd.
Only on The Last Word (hosted by Lawrence O'Donnell) did I see the clip in which McCain lost his temper (something he is known for) and called one of the attendees at the meeting a "jerk" right to his face. This is pretty far out for a politician to whom every vote counts, but McCain's career has been over for a long time now.
McCain tried to present himself to his Tea Party crowd as a statesman, reasonable and seasoned. It fell flat, although it was almost an enactment of the current so-called Republican soul searching that is said to be taking place behind closed doors. It is said by those who are supposed to know these things, that the Republicans' public talk is what is really going on: they are wondering what went wrong and re-evaluating their positions.
But if you look at the party platform, you will see that they stuck themselves into the most extreme-right positions, which are easy to re-evaluate although unless that platform is actually rewritten, no change of any sort will really take place. No abortions--no exceptions--is one example. Let enough American women die in back alleys and delivery rooms and they will re-evaluate their position, all right. Too late.
But McCain, as I wrote above, symbolizes this process (if indeed it is happening) as he careens from one attitude to another, trying to find out what will get him re-elected. He doesn't care what it is, although I'm quite sure he isn't going to become a moderate Democrat. But he will never assume his lost role of Elder Statesman after years of vacillating from one political persuasion to another farther right, and then bouncing back to the moderate middle, where he was the other day.
Of course the attendees asked him to explain his "Build the dang fence" position. Where's the fence, they asked. McCain mouthed generalities: progress has been made on the fence. When that wasn't good enough, that was when he called the questioner a jerk.
In short, McCain has fallen into the pot that he has been stirring for four years. Is he sincere in anything he said at his meeting? We don't know, and we can't know from what he says. When the true moderate Republicans retake their party, throwing out the Tea Party and leaving them to their own devices, McCain won't be trusted anymore.
In fact, if he were ever to consider taking advice from me, that advice would be to retire. It is known that he suffers from melanoma, a deadly form of cancer. Look at his face: on the left side he looks as though he is partially paralyzed. He isn't a well man and he ought to get back to his family for whatever time he has left.
Last night, as he tried to re-assume the middle of the road, McCain said naively that America ought to be compassionate towards border-crossers because we are, as he put it, "a Judeo-Christian nation." I must emphasize that his remark was loudly rejected by the crowd, and that brings me to my most important point.
America is no longer perceived as a Judeo-Christian nation. I have been complaining in print for years now that the primitive evangelical Church has been attempting to copyright the word "Christian" to apply to them only, and in large part they have succeeded. The typical situation is the musician who stops into a religious bookstore and asks for a copy of Handel's Messiah, only to be told that they only carry Christian music. All righty then.
The face of the American Church today, to the everlasting shame of American Christianity, is the Westboro Baptist Church. They have positioned themselves in front of cameras often enough to overcome even the foolish preacher in Florida who burned a copy of the Holy Quran. The Westboro Baptists have become the shock troops for the American Family Association and their cohorts, blackening the name of Christianity around the world until people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins finally had enough and attacked their primitive religion.
The Southern Baptist Convention has seen no reason to ask the Billy Graham Association or Bryan Fischer to tone down the hysterical bigotry of their latent homosexual preachers, and now they are running amok on cable stations, taking Christianity down with them. No, we are no longer a Judeo-Christian nation; in the eyes of the world we are a primitive Christian nation, denying geology and peering into bedrooms from coast to coast, making up Old-Testament Christianity as we go along.
It will be generations before America's reputation recovers from this political and religious fiasco. How was the rest of the world to know that America was viciously racist until the tidal wave of vilification swept over the nation when President Obama was elected? We were not really aware of it even here in the States.
Is John McCain sincere? It doesn't matter anymore; we will never know if he is or not. Meanwhile, the delicious poetic justice of playing with fire has come to sit on his shoulder like a chicken coming home to roost, as he tries unsuccessfully to transition out of a movement whose time has been past for years.