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Entries tagged as ‘McCain’

Sarah's Gone Off the Reservation

October 26, 2008 · 1 Comment

Author:  RJ

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. In the final days of the campaign, with McCain-Palin down on its luck, the ticket explodes.

CNN reports that Sarah Palin has “gone rogue.” She’s going off message, holding impromptu news conferences and contradicting some of McCain’s positions. I can only imagine the horror of McCain advisors as they watch their own little Eliza Doolittle shrug off her handlers and pursue an agenda of her own. (2012 presidential bid anyone?)

McCain advisors can no longer manage Palin whom they describe as a “diva” who “won’t take advice from anyone.” Palin sources claim that she’s frustrated with the way her contact with the media has been handled. In particular, she’s peeved about McCain press advisers denying her day-to-day access to the media and forcing her into two high-profile interviews that became legendary grist for comedy routines.

But really, what choice did the McCain camp have? In the interviews, Palin came off horribly despite all of the intense pre-interview briefing. One can only imagine how much worse she’d do in extemporaneous press interviews.  Referring to efforts to prepare Palin, one McCain source has said that “her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic,” and one the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced.

It’s no surprise that infighting and recriminations have begun as the McCain ship continues to sink. But the fact that these internecine squabbles have gone public suggests the campaign is already viewing a McCain loss as a foregone conclusion.

With defeat looming, Palin is not only biting the hand that fed her, but apparently tearing what’s left of it to shreds. But this is exactly what you get when you dress up a Pit Bull and thrust it onto the national political stage–with or without lipstick.

Categories: McCain · Palin · Politics
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William F. Buckley's Son Kicked Out Over Obama

October 25, 2008 · 7 Comments

In one of the most striking signs of the rift in the Republican Party, Christopher Buckley has been effectively kicked out of the National Review – a publication started by his father William F. Buckley – for supporting Obama.  Christopher Buckley is just one of a growing number of conservatives who have supported Obama, most because they simply can not support the McCain ticket or the ascendancy to power of the extreme right wing which resulted in the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.  The abandonment of the ticket by the thinking wing of the party is one of the signs that the ticket will go down to defeat.  Despite the anti-east coast-Washington-chattering class-intellectual public spin that the McCain-Palin campaign spit out at public events, these defections are giving the ticket, and much of the party, pause.

The Republican Party has done an amazing job holding together an uneasy coalition since the time of Reagan.  While the nuances are more complicated, it is not wrong to say that there have been two large clusters who often do not share a great deal within the coalition:  Traditional conservatives and the Religious Right.  Democrats are an even more fractured coalition of labor unions, African-American, Liberals, and teachers, and it is this diversity of interests that have made uniting those groups an even greater challenge than the Republicans have had.

Traditional conservatives include the more intellectual, moderate, fiscally conservative, “country-club” Republicans that formed the core of the Republican party until the late 1970’s.  Think top hats and martini sipping.

Shortly after the Democrats changed course, and went from a party that acted in obstruction of the civil rights movement and instead embraced civil rights, the Republicans started to flirt with the emerging evangelically-led religious right groups in order to obtain the possibility of a majority.  The Religious Right shifted from the traditional fundamentalist separation view which did not wish to be sullied by the worldly concerns represented by politics into the modern evangelical view of engagement that sought control of the political apparatus, using the Republican Party as its vessel.

Thousands of groups formed around specific objectives and interests, but the most visible, and arguably effective in the political sphere, was the now largely defunct Moral Majority.  Leaders in this movement included Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bill Bright, James Dobson, and Don Wildmon – many of whom remain active to this day.  Most of these groups saw themselves as participating in the tradition of Christian “Great Awakenings” – movements of spiritual revival brought on as waves of new believers repented of their sins, found Jesus, and filled the churches, igniting a spreading wildfire of spiritual passion and renewal.  Concurrent with this socio-spiritual change was the growing movement of Christian Reconstructionism, first popularized by John Rushdoony in a publication in 1973.  The basic idea is that governments are subordinate to God, and that rather than pursuing secular government as had been the dominant paradigm, that it was the duty of Christians to control government, and legislate morality and to become a “Christian Nation.” I know a little of what I speak, having been involved in the movement from the early 1980’s through the mid1990’s first as a part of “Campus Crusade for Christ,” and later as a member of several activist evangelical churches across the country.

In case you’d like a scorecard, William F. Buckley, John McCain, George Will, Christopher Buckley, Colin Powell, William Weld, Peggy Noonan and, yes, even Ronald Reagan are or were traditional conservative Republicans.  Sarah Palin, James Dobson, James Watt and John Ashcroft are part of the Religious RightMitt Romney represents an interesting figure – he could be considered a traditional Republican, except for his Mormon faith.  Mormonism lies far outside the bounds of traditional Evangelical Christianity, which considers it to be a cult, despite the best attempt by the Mormon church to define itself as within the mainstream Christian tradition.  It is an interesting challenge to keep together many groups who define salvation as specific and exclusive.

It is for this very reason that McCain had to work so hard to go against his instincts and his identity as a traditional conservative Republican and embrace the Religious Right in this campaign.  Having called (correctly in my view) the Religious Right “agents of intolerance” after their work to defeat him in earlier primaries, he realized that he needed their support to win the Republican nomination, so he spent years reversing course and cozying up to them.  Unfortunately I don’t believe that we are yet at the place where adherence to the Religious Right’s ideals make one unelectable at the national level, but McCain’s reversal of position left unease on all sides, and made people feel like they didn’t know the “real” John McCain.  If they vote for him, will they get the John McCain of eight years ago (the “maverick” who fought parts of his own party), or the John McCain of the last 8 years (who wrapped himself in the folds of George Bush voting with him over 90% of the time, and embracing the religious movement that he once criticized)?  Many close to McCain have said that it is this fundamental inconsistency that has exacerbated his already cantankerous personality, and made his temperament a critical and possibly fatal consideration for the women and independents he needs to win.

In previous administrations the religious right was mollified by superficial professions of a belief system that was close enough to being “right” combined with policy planks that addressed their specific agenda: against abortion, against gay rights, relaxation of the hard line between church and state.  As a former evangelical, I understand the uneasiness most members of the Religious Right felt when they heard Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and John McCain speak of their faith (which, by the way, is something they restricted to closed door meetings – not open to the media – held by religious interest groups rather than open forums).  After getting elected, the ruling administrations have largely abandoned those parts of the plank that were of most concern to the Religious Right, resulting in that movement feeling, appropriately, used by the party.  This year McCain had enough trouble with the traditional party establishment that the right felt empowered to demand its own Vice President candidate, and McCain was forced to find one that also offset his own weaknesses:  age, lack of charisma and exploit Obama’s perceived weakness with women following a long grueling primary fight with Hillary Clinton.  Thus did we arrive at a place where a relatively unknown and inexperienced Sarah Palin was placed on the ticket.  But rather than heal the rift, as Palin’s fortunes have sagged after an initial burst, Palin is now serving to expose and deepen the divide.

Traditional Republicans are abandoning the ticket in droves.  Uninspired by McCain and horrified by Palin, they are quietly or publicly supporting the Obama-Biden ticket.

This rift has now reached a critical moment and moved center stage.  To get back to the title of this article, Christopher Buckley is the most recent to suffer from the attempt for solidarity and purity.  No longer able to support a ticket that so thoroughly disdains the intellectual underpinnings of conservatism that his father had been so instrumental in creating, he came out in support of Barack Obama.  He wrote that his father William F. Buckley would have been “appalled” by Palin’s vapid folksy talking points and philosophical incoherence.

The resulting outcry came quickly and vehemently.  So much so that Christopher Buckley decided to offer up his resignation as a symbolic act of protest.  To Buckley’s surprise the editors accepted his resignation, believing that they needed to hew to party unity.  This insistence on falling in with the party line to foster unity and the attempt to paper over real differences will only weaken the Republican Party.

I will confess that I have always adored William F. Buckley’s writing, and it has influenced me greatly.  He had an ability to write thoughtfully about nuanced topics with great clarity, and with a love for and mastery of the English language that was rare.  While I have grown out of much of his system of beliefs, he was always someone whom I would have loved to have met, and to have engaged in lively discussion and debate.  But our political culture seems to have lost the idea that a robust debate about ideas is healthy and can be civil.

This week I have again been challenged about the appropriateness of this site’s URL:  hatepalin.  I have been told that I am feeding the trend toward vulgarity and incivility with the use of the word “hate.”  The idea when I started this site was to:

  1. Help vet Sarah Palin – to find and expose the truth, since so little was known about her
  2. Expose the hate engendered in the exclusionary and divisive agenda of Sarah Palin and the Religious Right
  3. Write about my disdain for the policies of Sarah Palin that I hate

I will repeat here and perhaps figure out a way to move to the front of the site the statements on the “About” Page:  I don’t hate Sarah Palin.  I do hate her policies and much of what she stands for.  If you want to know what this site is about and the word “hate” so disturbs you, ignore the URL, and focus on the title page.  Here’s what it looks like and says:

hatepalin site title and mission

And I stand firmly by both of those premises.

Christopher Buckley, thank you for standing up for what you believe.  Thank you for staying true to what your father worked so hard to build.  You will not be the one left in the wilderness when the Republican rift has worked its course.  You will help rebuild a truly Grand Old Party into its historic best and not its present worst.

But read it for yourself from Christopher Buckley:

Buckley Bows Out of National Review

and

Sorry, Dad, I’m Voting for Obama

Categories: Bush · McCain · Palin · Politics
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More Republicans Switch to Support Obama

October 24, 2008 · 1 Comment

The drip of bad news coming from those who ought to be supporting the McCain-Palin ticket seemed to accelerate this week.  It must feel like a form of water torture, really.  I mean these are the tried and true Republicans, often the moderates, who seem to be the winning future of the party.

We’ve seen former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Press Secretary Scott McClellan come out in support of Obama.  Peggy Noonan, while not actually voicing support, has been highly critical of Palin and of McCain for choosing her.

Here are two more Republicans for Obama:

Combine these defections with a shrinking electoral map, and McCain-Palin face daunting odds indeed.  There’s still a lot of time in the race, and anything is possible, but the signs can’t be encouraging for those within the McCain-Palin campaign.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the key states:

  • McCain-Palin have essentially given up on these key “swing” states:  Michigan, Iowa, New Mexico
  • McCain-Palin are near to conceding:  Ohio, Missouri
  • Toss-up states that should be solidly Republican:  Indiana, North Carolina
  • And one of the two kahunas?  Florida, where McCain-Palin went from a recent 5 point lead to a 1 point deficit as of today.

What does that leave?  The other big kahuna – Pennsylvania.  The electoral math says that Pennsylvania has become a must-win state for McCain-Palin.  And Tom Ridge, after being passed over for the VP slot, is still a McCain-Palin supporter, but he has been publicly speculating that the ticket would be much further ahead had McCain chosen him instead of Sarah Palin.

There’s even a site now for Republicans who are supporting Obama:  www.republicansforobama.com

As I’ve said before, the Palin decision worked great at firing up the hard right base, but not only has it alienated the independents necessary to win, by all indications it has also alienated enough moderate Republicans, including former holders of powerful positions like Governors of big states.  Not a good sign for McCain-Palin at all.

Categories: Bush · McCain · Palin · Palintology · Politics
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Reagan Speech Writer Agrees Palin A Disaster

October 24, 2008 · 4 Comments

Peggy Noonan was the much valued speechwriter for darling of the Republican Party Ronald Reagan, as well as the creator of such memorable lines as “a thousand points of light” and “read my lips: no new taxes” for George Bush the First.

No friend of Obama or the Democrats, she has been scathing in her assessment of the candidacy of Sarah Palin.  Here are a few excerpts from her opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on October 17, 2008:  “Palin’s Failin.”

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for?

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can’t be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush’s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don’t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.

While I don’t agree with a great deal of what Peggy Noonan says and believes, I think that she is spot-on in her assessment of Palin.  And it is precisely this conclusion, that Palin is by no means qualified to be Vice President – or God forbid – President, and that her selection reflects so badly on John McCain that it could well cost him the White House.

Categories: Bush · McCain · Palin · Palintology
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Bush's Press Secretary Is Voting Obama-Biden

October 23, 2008 · Leave a Comment

Given his scathing book about the Bush administration he once served and the brokenness of Washington politics, I suppose it’s not a huge surprise that Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary for President Bush, is voting for Obama-Biden.

Still, McClellan’s formal announcement earlier today on the new “T.L. Hughley Breaks The News” comedy show on CNN, is still striking in that moderate Republicans seem to be breaking more strongly away from McCain-Palin.

I have to believe that it’s for many of the same reasons that Colin Powell endorsed Obama:

  • Obama is a transformative historic figure
  • McCain’s campaign has been unsteady
  • McCain has cozied up to the right wing of the Republican party
  • Palin highlights the extent to which McCain has bought into the “win-at-all-costs” mentality
  • Palin’s selection demonstrates how much beholden the Republican party is to the religious right.

View the interview here:

Categories: Bush · McCain · Palin · Todd
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Palin Continues to Break Right From McCain

October 20, 2008 · Leave a Comment

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) David Brody, Palin broke from the position held by McCain and said that she supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

McCain clearly opted to shore up the far-right conservative Republican base with his choice of Palin.  Now that the McCain-Palin ticket is starting to face heavy odds and struggles to regain momentum and shrink the gap between themselves and Obama-Biden, it would appear that Palin may be starting to focus more on life after a possible defeat of her ticket by playing more to the right and breaking from McCain’s positions.  Given her history of – shall we say – slips of the tongue, it’s also possible that the comment was simply a statement of her own beliefs in an unguarded moment.

It’s also troubling to me that Palin, who has given fewer interviews to the legitimate media, chooses to speak with CBN instead of CBS, NBC, ABC, The New York Times or the Washington Post.

McCain got it right when he said about a constitutional gay marriage ban that it was “antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.”  But I’m not sure if that was the principled McCain of a decade ago, or the opportunistic McCain of this campaign.

It certainly should surprise no-one that Palin supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  This red-herring issue has long been a favorite of social conservatives.  So forget about “leave it to the states” – that’s only good for abortion, where that’s the only way the right sees that they can make progress on outlawing abortion.  Forget for the moment that it would be the first time  that we changed the constitution to deny civil rights to a group of people (which in itself ought to give any fair-minded person pause).  What is surprising is that with only a couple of weeks left before the election Palin would take positions different than McCain.  She had been in lockstep with him since her selection (with the exception of ANWR).  I think this very well could be the start of Palin staking out her own position within the party.

As I’ve written before, I don’t think that this approach will achieve what Palin hopes.  Even if she does solidify a position of prominence with hard-core social conservatives, if she does it by being a part of the team that loses the Presidency to the Democrats it will only accelerate a rush to the middle by mainstream Republicans. A civil war between economic and social conservatives has been kept at bay for a long time.  I think we will continue to see that coalition unravel with the loss of the Presidency and a smaller minority position in both houses of Congress after the 2008 election.  I don’t know who will win control of the Republican apparatus, but the ensuing internal fight will drain the party of its ability to compete.

I think that when the analysis has finally been done, it will be clear that McCain’s grand gesture of choosing Palin proved to be a lethal choice for his ticket.  And we can hope that the venom and politics of division practiced by Palin goes back to Alaska for a long hard deep freeze.

Categories: McCain · Palin · Palintology
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Colin Powell Calls Palin Unqualified

October 20, 2008 · 1 Comment

In an important surprise move the decorated veteran, retired four-star General, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  – and a Republican who served in Republican administrations – endorsed Barrack Obama for President.

One of the reasons Powell cited was McCain’s choice of Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate.  While calling her accomplished and impressive, he said what over 70% of the population now believes: that she is simply not qualified or ready to be Vice President – much less President if something were to happen to McCain if he were elected.

The news just keeps getting worse for the McCain-Palin ticket.  Troopergate findings.  Lopsided fund-raising (Obama raised an all-time record $150 million in September).  Powell’s endorsement.  Joe the tax-cheat, non-licensed, not-really-trying-to-buy-a-company-plumber-whose-name-isn’t-really-Joe.  Even Republican wordmeister Frank Luntz on Real Time with Bill Maher said that he believes that Obama will be the next President.

Read about the story in the Los Angeles Times:  Colin Powell endorses Obama, says Palin Unqualified, defends Muslim-Americans.

Categories: McCain · Palin · Politics
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Obama Defeats McCain in 3rd Debate for Clean Sweep

October 15, 2008 · 10 Comments

The third time was a charm.  Bob Schieffer showed how a debate should be moderated.

McCain had his best performance; Obama was not at his best.  But in keeping with the rest of the campaign, Obama’s B-game proved to be better than McCain’s A-game.

McCain’s biggest weakness were his reactions – his facial expressions while Obama was speaking, his snarky and petulant come-backs.  His frustration was palpable, as was his disdain and condescension for Obama.  His best suit was that he showed authenticity.  Unfortunately for him it was mostly authentic anger.

Obama was true to form in staying cool despite some harsh attacks.  I felt like he could have shown a little more real emotion in reaction to some of McCain’s biting comments, and could have strayed from what seemed like the same talking points.  Fortunately for Obama, the talking points were appealing to most Americans, and I think that he again came across as more measured, mature and Presidential than McCain.  So while Obama was again not tremendously exciting, he accomplished exactly what he needed to.

So here’s how the CNN flash poll scored it:

Who won the Debate?   Obama 58% to McCain 37%

When asked this question along party affiliation:

Who won?               Obama                        McCain

Democratic               88%                                    5%

Republican                68%                                   18%

Independent              57%                                   31%

So clearly most people, and especially the all-important Independents, felt that Obama won the debate.  Similarly, Obama improved his pre-debate to post-debate favorables by 3 points (63 to 66), while reducing his unfavorables by 3 points (from 35 to 32); while McCain decreased his favorables by 2 points (52 to 49) while increasing his unfavorables by 4 points (45 to 49).  That’s right, nearly 50% of the people watching the debate view McCain unfavorably, and as many view him unfavorably as favorably.  By comparison Obama has a 2:1 favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Here are some other key comparisons that show how big a hill McCain has to climb:

When asked:                                               Obama          McCain

Who more clearly expressed views?               66%                  25%

Who spent more time attacking opponent?     7%                  80%

Who seemed more like a strong leader?          56%                 39%

Who was more likeable?                                   70%                 22%

Better on Economy?                                          59%                 35%

Better on fixing Financial Issues?                     56%                 35%

Better on Health Care Issues?                           62%                 31%

Better on Tax Issues?                                        56%                 41%

When a Republican can’t win on the issue of taxes, it’s game over.  There’s one number that didn’t come from the polls that should seal McCain’s fate more than even these lopsided post-debate polls:  the 9% that the S&P 500 dropped earlier in the day.  If that didn’t make everyone sick to his or her stomach, than you’re either a massive short seller or just not paying attention.

McCain-Palin went for the hail-Mary pass of going negative.  The population doesn’t care about Ayers of 40 years ago.  McCain shot himself by saying he’d kick Obama’s whatsit in this last debate.  And Palin seems to be operating in a parallel world, beyond McCain’s control.  Her incendiary attacks have fueled lynch-mob-like cries at her rallies, which she has failed to confront or correct.  Those are the shouts that have been heard around the nation and the world.  She also seems to be suffering from delusions of grandeur, and apparently believes that she has a national future beyond 2008.  I think she’ll be bundled back to Alaska faster than she could shoot a wolf or gut a moose, and blamed for the ticket’s loss by the very Republicans who are so “energized” by her now.

Categories: McCain · Palin
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Sarah, what has thou wrought?

October 11, 2008 · Leave a Comment

This post was written by Contributor RJ:

***

Kill Him!  Off with his head!  Traitor!  Arab!

No, this is not from a public execution in medieval England.  It’s the soundtrack to McCain-Palin’s latest anti-Obama smear campaign.

This is what you inevitably hear when you send Sarah Palin to stoke unstable supporters with incendiary rhetoric.

No one looks more pained about this than McCain himself who’s now in the awkward position of having to defend Obama against his own seething base.

But what did the McCain campaign expect?  The people they’re trying to “energize always jump at an opportunity to vent their anger, and Palin did everything short of handing out pitchforks at her rallies.

The good news is that all this ugliness (likened by some to the race-baiting vitriol of George Wallace), only serves to elevate Obama’s stature.

Let’s just hope McCain does the honorable thing and reins in Sarah before actual violence breaks out at one of their events.

Categories: McCain · Palin · Palintology
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McCain Whips Supporters Into Frenzy, Then Urges Respect

October 11, 2008 · Leave a Comment

McCain, to his credit, has recently been urging the bloodthirsty in his audience to exercise restraint and respect.

Perhaps you heard some of the horrifying sound bites of his crowds shouting “kill him” when John was whipping them into a frenzy at his rallies.  I felt a cold hard knot form in the base of my stomach when I heard that. We are not that far from the tyranny of the mob in this country, especially where race is concerned.  Compound that with the worst economic crisis the country has seen in generations, and you have the volatile ingredients for hatred and persecution to rear its ugly head.

Palin, in her role as the “attack dog” of the campaign, was a prime mover in inspiring the baser instincts in campaign supporters.  It is not surprising that racists would flock to a campaign that is opposing the first African-American in history with a real chance at becoming President.  It is surprising that the campaign inflamed their misplaced passion with irresponsible rhetoric.  But I have to give McCain his due, when he realized how dangerous this situation was, or more cynically perhaps, when he realized that he would lose non-racist moderates in droves if he didn’t speak out against the lynch mob, he did speak out clearly.  So kudos to McCain for his recent action.

Now you may find it funny that I talk about hatred on a site called “hatepalin.com.”  Several have chided me for using this URL.  As I’ve tried to make clear on my “about” page I don’t hate Sarah Palin.  I do hate many of her policies, and think she would be disastrous in a national leadership role.  I just thought that “www.sarahpalinisdangerousandihateherpoliciesandshewouldbedisastrous.com” was less catchy.  But if you’ve read my posts, I’ve veered away from criticizing her family (except where it reflects on her suitability for office, like when her husband improperly used the office and power of the Governor in Troopergate, or where her own statements contradict her policies, like her praise of her daughters “choice” to keep her baby while wanting to deny other girls that choice), and I’ve never tried to demonize the woman.  That’s more than I can say about the McCain-Palin campaign and their rhetoric about Obama.

This is the time for the country to demonstrate real unity to solve our common problems.  I have had enough of the politics of triangulation and division that have dominated our landscape for the last five terms.  This is a time to show our better selves, our more educated selves, to reveal the benefits of all those years of increasing respect for diversity and humanity.

So thank you John McCain for calling off your most virulent and disgraceful supporters.  Let’s hope you quelled the angry mob before it has lost all reason and through its speech and actions leads us to a place we should not go, and ought to have left far behind a long time ago.

Categories: McCain
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