“How Low Can You Go” After You Have Said “That One”?

By James M. Wall

A special note to readers of this blog who do not have immediate access to American television: This posting is for you.

Faithful readers in the U.S. are also encouraged to read along and click on the links, especially if you missed the 90 minute Obama-McCain debate Tuesday night.  You Tube has even supplied us with a helpful ten minute summary clip of debate highlights. 

Polls indicate the public saw Obama as the clear winner in the debate.  John McCain did not echo the mud slinging of his recent stump speeches, nor those of his Pit Bull running mate, Sarah Palin. He tried to focus on issues. But his anger could not be hidden. It showed in one disastrous slur when McClain pointed at Obama and said, “That one”.

One pundit has pointed out that after “that woman” did such damage to Bill Clinton,  a politician should never say “that one”, especially not to a person of a minority group. 

The T shirt above is for sale on line from the Obama campaign. I am not in the business of selling merchandise.  So if after reading this post you wish to make your own purchase, well, it is a free market country, isn’t it? 

Talking Points Memo, which called my attention to the on-line availability of the Obama “That One” items, notes with awe the speed with which the Obama campaign whipped out a whole new line of buttons and T shirts.

If the Obama team can move that fast, think what they might do with a “3 a.m. phone call”? 

McCain thought the townhall format was his best venue. It was not. A 72-year-old man should not stalk around a stage when his much younger opponent glides from his chair to stand before the invited guests.

Without CSPAN or MSNBC you may have missed the 20 minutes that followed the end of the debate.  The Obamas hung around shaking hands and posing for pictures with audience members who were there because they were considered “undecideds”.

The McCains had disappeared. They knew the non cable networks had returned to their usual fare, forgetting, perhaps that cable hangs around events. 

John McCain has broken the hearts of all those members of the media  who have long admired his “straight talking” candor and accessibility. Those admirers will not enjoy the “How Low Can You Go?” You Tube clip which revels in the McCain descent into the dark side. 

McCain’s media admirers (he once called them his “base”) stood by helplessly in 2000 when the Bush campaign demolished McCain in the South Carolina primary with a Karl Rove smear that identified John and Cindy McCain’s adopted daughter as McCain’s illegitimate daughter,  fathered with a mother of color. 

The charge was a blatant lie, but truth has never been a concern for Karl Rove, nor for his mentor, Lee Atwater, nor for his acolytes currently running McCain’s campaign.

 The media exposed the illegitimate daughter lie, loudly,  but the same know nothing voters, eight years later, are buying a new set of  Rovian style lies. These are classic “mindless” voters, as opposed to “mindful” voters.

At least one of the mindless voters was heard shouting “treason” at a Sarah Palin’s rally. Another shouted at an African American cameraman covering Palin, “sit down, boy”.

Mindless voters like these believed the 2000 lie about McCain’s child. Those same mindless voters are embracing Palin’s lies about Obama’s “terrorist” connections to Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor.

And they are eagerly awaiting the delicious moment when the Rovians highlight Jeremiah Wright at some point in the next month. They are not impressed with Wright’s career as pastor of a mega church on the south side of Chicago. Nor do his graduate degrees in religion touch their hearts. 

Are these mindless voters “rednecks” or stupid people? Most of them are not. They are your kinfolks and buddies from college. Your nice aunt or conservative cousin or college boyfriend keeps sending you emails asking if Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.

You keep telling them he is as much a born again Christian as they are.  But they still have their “concerns”. That is how you know they have been infected with the Rovian mindless virus. 

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is one of the heart-broken McCain admirers who knows that McCain is not Rovian by nature. Now she grieves that he is going against his own standards  in a desperate effort to win this election.  He has even abandoned a positive “maverick” ad to go almost 100% negative.

The morning after the debate, her column, “Mud Pies for ‘That One'”, began:

Some of John McCain’s friends, from the good old days when he talked straight, feared that his Greek tragedy would be that he would be defeated by George Bush twice: once in 2000, because of W.’s no-conscience campaigning, and again in 2008, because of W.’s no-brains governing.

But if McCain loses, he will have contributed to his own downfall by failing to live up to his personal standard of honor.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in -Archive 2008, Politics and Elections. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “How Low Can You Go” After You Have Said “That One”?

  1. Bill says:

    John McCain reaps what he sowed in 2000. By cultivating his media darling status, he ironically set up his own fall when the inevitable Democrat came along that the media would love more. The “straight talk” was as much branding as “change” is this year. When the branding fails (as it inevitably does for politicians), the media will pounce because it is how they make their headlines.

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