Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sticks and Stones

I grew up in an era where kids in my neighborhood were not so much bullied physically as verbally abused. We called it teased in those days. For reasons I have never fully understood I was teased mercilessly. I can remember any number of after school chats with one or both parents after coming home in tears. They tried to assure me that kids only teased me because they liked me. Yah!?

But it was a friend that taught me the rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," that helped the most. But words can hurt and do hurt as G.W. Bush proved in his last presidential election with the Swift boating ads, and his constantly calling Kerry a Flip-flopper. It certainly left a very bad taste in my mouth and put me back in those school yards with the verbal bullies. I am firmly convinced they did not like me.

Senator John McCain, perhaps to set himself apart from the Republican administration promised a civil campaign on the issues and then, sorry about this, Flip-flopped. He called in the big guns (Palin has killed moose and advocates killing wolves from airplanes) and went the route of schoolyard bullies everywhere. Even worse is that his nasty and underhanded rhetoric was inciting violence among his followers. He and Sarah were stirring up racial hatreds we all thought long buried. And was a lesson for me. Today if I had used that sticks and stones rhyme I would say it silently so people would not consider it a mandate to check it out.

To McCain's credit he did on at least once occasion try to nullify the hatred he was stirring up. Too little? Too late? Where will these stirred up radicals go or do if McCain loses? And it is beginning to look like he just might. Seems I am not the only independent thinker that was teased as a child. Polls show that the electorate is responding quite negatively to the nasty campaigning of Sarah Palin and John McCain. And they are in increasing numbers disparaged by McCain's choice of Sarah as attack dog.

These are serious times it seems. And the voters, especially those still sitting on the fence, want to hear some serious answers from the presidential candidates. They are abhorred by McCain's about face regarding his campaign, and no other single decision has more aligned him with the president we all love to hate, GW Bush. We don't want more of the same as we have endured the last eight years. And that goes for policies, campaign style, and lack of looking presidential. God, but I am sick of him leaning drunkenly on the podium!

So it seems that John McCain has seen the handwriting on the wall (national polls) and is trying to clean up his act. Tonight he has the opportunity to act like an adult in the debate unlike the little finger pointing brat of the last debate (boy, but it reminded me of my brother and that isn't good). The question is whether it is too little, too late. I hope so.

But I am most concerned about the damage his rhetoric has already done to race issues here in the United States. Once you set the dogs loose it is not that easy to call them back. Will we see a rise in hate crimes here in the US because of those things a schoolyard bully with national coverage said? I certainly hope not. Shame on you John McCain.