Monday, May 22, 2006

Better Left Unsaid

You'll by now have heard about New School graduate Jean Rohe's commencement speech whereby she labasted John McCain's appearance there and criticised his support for the war in Iraq. This has been buzzing around a bit and Ms. Rohe herself posted an item at the Huffpost as to how her speech came about. Well, it seems that a long time aide to Mr. McCain, a one Mark Salter, took umbrage to Ms. Rohe's uppity back talk and posted a comment that probably would have been better left unposted. I'm sure McCain would have preferred to take his lumps and walk away, content with having mollycoddled the pudding heads at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

But Salter couldn't resist defending a man who appears to most objective observers to have traded in any semblance of dignity for a spot at the Bush table. The slander and derision that was cast upon McCain by the Bush campaign in the run-up to the GOP primary for 2000 was truly one of the more atrocious spectacles seen in any recent political landscape. It had been intimated that McCain had fathered an illegitmate black child and that his mental faculties might be questionable after years as POW in Vietnam. This Rovian campaign feeding frenzy had stripped McCain to the bone. After this appalling treatment at the hands of Bush operatives, McCain chose to choke it all down and give Bush a big ol' hug at the RNC convention in 2004. No one enjoyed watching that and McCain himself looked extremely uncomfortable, as he should have. Actually, that's wrong. He should never have been there in the first place. But for a man who still harboured aspirations for the Oval Office, he had to play nice with Bush. It was the fact of his appearance then that made many realise the man had likely lost whatever valour he may have once possessed (though some will dispute that). Politics, as is often said of that ignoble enterprise, had sucked him dry.

With such well known background, Salter proceeded to criticised Rohe by claiming that she took
exception to the fact that the speech was written with all four commencements he has been invited to address.
No, that is not with what Rohe had taken exception. In fact, she explicitly acknowledged appreciation for knowing exactly what McCain was going to say. I suspect Salter must have been so fumed at the moment he didn't hear a word the woman said nor bothered to read the speech afterwards. Rohe took exception to McCain's support for the war. Salter then goes tiredly on about the rude young-un's derision of McCain and, before long, winds up yelping about character. Naturally enough, commenters savage his stupid and entirely unnecessary remarks.

But I have to wonder, where was Salter's righteous indignation in 2000? Back then McCain was being ravaged, not by some young cocky liberal, but by George Bush's team of political hit men. Well, we know the answer to that. Rove had bigger guns and in the world of politics, McCain has learned to take the hit and keep on sucking the GOP pipe. Salter knows this, which is why he never showed much bother back then and why he does show it now: years of pent up frustration from wanting to shove his fist down Karl Rove's throat and knowing he never could.

Salter would have done well to take his sanctimonius huff and keep it down in whatever gutteral pit all the other suffered indignities lie. For there are surely worse ones than having a college graduate say that she doesn't like John McCain's support of an obviously phony war.


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