There may have been a time when John McCain could have been considered a "maverick," but that time has clearly come and gone. McCain has hired Karl Rove's henchmen to run what even the traditional media is calling one of the nastiest campaigns in recent memory.
What is most shocking about the negative and dishonest tenor of the McCain campaign is that the same kind of people McCain has hired to run his slash and burn campaign against Sen. Barack Obama were the kind of people that used innuendo and fear to slice and dice McCain's presidential ambitions in 2000.
McCain's persistence in pushing dubious claims is all the more notable because many political insiders consider him one of the greatest living victims of underhanded campaigning. Locked in a tight race with George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain was rocked in South Carolina by a whisper campaign claiming he had fathered an illegitimate black child and was mentally unstable."
In a transformation reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker's journey to the dark side McCain is now using the same Rovian tactics used against him to throw up smokebomb after smokebomb to distract the media and play on the fears and prejudices of some voters. He is unwilling to debate policy issues, continues to defend campaign ads that are riddled with lies and poisoning the political well in a way that is damaging to our democracy.
With evidence pointing to McCain being willing to use the most divisive and questionable tactics of past Republican campaigns to win the presidency, what makes any LGBT voter believe that McCain will confront the march of anti-gay evangelical forces that now control the GOP?
Indeed, even as he tries to appeal to libertarian-leaning Republicans this year, McCain has accepted a crude and backward Republican platform that is the most homophobic in the party's history -- a document that rants about "the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service," endorses "a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it," and that, in a section hailing the party's commitment to individual rights, pointedly avoids denouncing discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The great tragedy of John McCain's current candidacy is that everyone who knows the man -- as I have for the better part of two decades -- knows that, while he is not in the camp of the haters who have come to dominate his party, the senator lacks the courage to challenge them.
Cross-posted at LGBT for Obama