Monday, October 13, 2008

Country First: John McCain is deliberately throwing the election

Late, very late into the night after the second presidential debate, John McCain sat in the lounge area of his hotel suite with his face in his hands. Cindy was asleep in the bedroom. Wherever Sarah Palin was that night—in the muddle following the town hall debacle with Barak Obama, John couldn't recall the city where she was campaigning—was no doubt sleeping the untroubled sleep of the righteous. For his part, John felt sick to his stomach.

There was a tap the door, and then the door from the hallway opened. John didn't look up; he knew who it was: Blade, billionaire philanthropist, P.O.W. in the Hanoi Hilton from 1966 to 1973, and currently working on the John McCain presidential campaign as . . . as one of the many middle-aged guys milling about who looked important, but whose actual role was never really defined to anyone.

"Need a drink?" Blade asked. John leaned back in his chair. He looked exhausted and on the edge of tears. "Yeah," John said, forcing a smile. "Strychnine with a twist, please."

Blade sat down and slapped John's knee. "Country first."

John nodded grimly. "Country first."

* * *

There is really no question that John McCain is throwing the presidential election. If nothing else, the Republican party is realistic about its chances of winning a presidential election following the disastrous and immensely unpopular administration of George W. Bush. In short, whoever runs on the Republican ticket following Bush would effectively be thrown into a furnace of voter discontent, anger and outrage. Few people within the Republican party are as hated by the party as John McCain. Who better to throw into that furnace?

Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee were put out there to make the nominee campaign look credible, but with John McCain in the mix, there was really no question who was going to take the figurative bullet for the party—McNasty himself. So, John McCain's failing and nearly bankrupt campaign was put back onto its feet, and John pointed toward the finish line. After spending a king's ransom on his own run, Mitt Romney was told to withdraw. Giuliani and Thompson fizzled like cut-rate fireworks. And Mike Huckabee traveled the country like a conservative Richard Simmons speaking about his weight loss, and how he would similarly strip the country of its fat and flesh.

Which left only one—John McCain, a man so rightfully bitter over the political mugging he took in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential campaign that he didn't vote for George W. Bush. He was so disillusioned with the Republican party that he thought about becoming a Democrat. That is, until he was approached by his old military and P.O.W. friend, Blade.

"You should be talking to Al Gore," John McCain said, distracted and demoralized, the day of George W. Bush's first inauguration.

"I have," Blade said. "We've got all the documentation on how the Republicans used a company called Choicepoint to purge tens of thousands of eligible voters from the Florida rolls, thus highjacking the vote."

"And?"

"He passed."

John McCain chuckled derisively. "Of course." He shook his head. "Every time I think about crossing the aisle for good, the Dems pull one more spineless puss-out that makes me wanna spit."

"Well, if you have the patience, we've got a plan," Blade said.

"You know I have the patience."

"Good. We're looking at 2004 . . ."

* * *

The plan to challenge George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election was nixed by 9/11. John McCain was no stranger to disappointment and to interminable waiting.

* * *

The night of Tuesday, August 10, 2004, John McCain stayed up long after Cindy had gone to bed. He wept in the sitting room of their hotel suite. There was a tap at the door, and then the door from the hallway opened. Blade entered.

"You motherfucking cocksucker," John McCain hissed at his friend.

Blade sat down. "I know."

John McCain wiped his eyes and glared at him. "I've voted with this child president, just as you asked. I've publicly agreed with him on policy that makes me wanna puke. But to hug him?" McCain's voice rose, but he caught himself and clenched his jaw. "But to hug that spoiled fratboy douche-bag? You had to have me do that, too?"

"Yes. I'm sorry." Blade paused, pained. "If 2008 has any shot of working, we've got to lay the groundwork now."

"I know," John McCain said. "But I want to vomit when I think of how the image of me hugging that soulless, monstrous miscreant is going to proliferate. I'm going to be hammered with that until I'm dead."

"Yes," Blade said. "But your country needs you, John. If 2008 is going to work, we need this."

"I understand," John McCain sighed, resigned.

"Country first," Blade said.

"Country first," John McCain echoed.

* * *

In early March 2008, Blade made one of his late-night visits to John McCain. "John, you're going to like this about as much as you enjoyed The Hug."

John McCain seemed to smile and wince at the same time. "Hit me."

"We're hiring Karl Rove to work on your campaign."

John McCain barked laughter. "Of course we are." He shook his head. "Will anybody buy it? I mean, come on. Everybody's going to see through that. I want that cocksucker's head on a pike, not on my pay-roll."

"I know, John, but if this is going to work, we need Rove on board."

"Well, if we're going into the heart of darkness, we may as well go all the way. Why don't we hire that fucking schmuck Steve Schmidt while we're at it."

Blade offered a cockeyed smile. "That was my next bit of news—we already did."

John McCain laughed. "Nathan Hale might've lamented having only one life to give for his country, but I'm giving every layer of skin on the way to giving my life." He paused. "I'll go down in history as one of our country's biggest fools—and we've produced some beauts."

"It's what the country needs, John."

"I know. Country first."

Blade nodded. "Yes, country first."

* * *

Going into the Republican convention, John McCain summoned Blade to his suite one night after Cindy was asleep. "Give me this," John McCain said. "I've given you The Hug, I've hired Rove and his band of gutless mercenaries. I've mangled nearly every position I've ever held. Give me this."

"Well, we do have that hurricane working in our favor."

"I don't care what the cover story is. I will not share a stage with Bush and Cheney. It's not going to happen. We've got some wonderful conniving minds on the payroll, put them to work on this."

Blade did and managed to divert Dick Cheney from the Republican convention altogether, and to limit George W. Bush's presence to a televised speech.

Later, backstage, as John McCain listened to Fred Thompson's gushing speech, Blade brushed by his friend. John said, "You know how Kevin Costner was cast as the dead guy in The Big Chill, but was ultimately cut out of the movie?"

"Yes," Blade said.

"They should've cast Fred Thompson as the corpse. This guy makes Styrofoam look interesting in comparison."

Blade looked at Thompson at the podium. "Yeah. Fred's got his strengths. Nobody's figured out what they are, but I'm sure he's got his strengths."

"He's an organ-donor-buffet, and you know it," John McCain said. He and Blade laughed.

* * *

The night following his address at the Republican National Convention—accepting his party's nomination as its candidate for president—John McCain stayed up late watching the news. At one point, a commentator spoke about the backdrop used during McCain's speech. Amid the lights and audience sounds, John McCain had paid no attention to the large video image cast against the screen behind him. The TV commentator pointed out that the image was of Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California and wondered if this was possibly a gaffe on the part of John McCain's staff—that they showed the image mistakenly believing it was Walter Reed Medical Center.

John McCain laughed and raised his glass of diet Fresca to the TV. "Cheers, Blade."

A figure stepped out of the shadows by the rest room. "Did I hear my name?"

John McCain whipped around in his chair, spilling his drink. Blade stepped into the lamp light. McCain relaxed. "Jesus, man, you scared the shit out of me."

"Sorry, but I wanted to be a fly on the wall when you heard about our flourish with the backdrop."

"You've got a flair for the absurd—I'll give you that."

"Glad you feel that way," Blade said as he sat down. "Because I've got another request."

John McCain grimaced. "Not another Hug."

"Yes, I'm sorry."

"What . . . ?" John McCain said, eyes shut, pained.

"Your running mate."

"Right, well Lieberman oughta piss off Rove and Co. pretty thoroughly."

"Oh, he would, but we have a better candidate in mind."

"Who?"

"Sarah Palin."

"Who the fuck is that?"

"She's governor of Alaska and by all accounts, she's George W. Bush in a skirt."

John McCain brought a hand up to his face. "You've gotta be kidding me."

"I'm afraid not."

"Will I have to hug her?"

Blade laughed. "No, it'll be strictly hands off. When you see her, though, you may regret that rule."

"She's hot?"

"She looks good, sure, but what a basket of vipers hiding within that MILF ‘hockey mom' exterior!"

"Does she have experience?"

"None whatsoever."

"Baggage?"

"A handful of scandals brewing, and a teenaged daughter who's five months pregnant."

"So, the true tanking of my candidacy now begins."

"It's been happening for a while, but yeah, we definitely step it up with Sarah Palin." Blade slapped John McCain's knee. "Hey, you'll love this one graphic we've got ready for circulation on the Internet."

"Yeah?"

"We have a caption under one of her pictures that reads: ‘Finally, a beauty queen who doesn't want world peace.'"

John McCain laughed in spite of himself. "I like it."

* * *

Although John McCain had never in his life entered a campaign or competition to lose, he rationalized the annihilation of his candidacy on election day as a win for America. The presidency of George W. Bush had been so catastrophic, so far-reaching in its malignancy, so damaging to the country, it was nearly impossible to pinpoint any one policy or gross misstep that eclipsed the rest: Allowing the 9/11 attacks to occur, allowing Osama Bin Laden to escape in Tora Bora in the autumn of 2001, the anthrax attacks, the Iraq war, outing CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for an op-ed her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote about "yellow cake uranium" from Niger, domestic spying, the Mission Accomplished debacle aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln—seeing W. in that flight suit was almost enough to make John McCain join the Anarchist Party of America—Abu Ghraib, hurricane Katrina and "You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie!" The execrable list went on and on until the reasoned mind simply turned away from the unchecked, unmitigated outrage.

These were the things John McCain kept in mind the next day when he introduced Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The final nails in the coffin of John McCain's candidacy came in the flood of op-eds, both in print and on television, proclaiming him to be a man who looked like he'd sold his soul; that he was running the most discreditable, unprincipled presidential campaign in American history. Even Karl Rove—soulless imp of soulless imps—said that some of John McCain's advertising didn't pass the truth test.

"I couldn't look at him," John McCain said, exhausted, the night following the first debate with Barak Obama. "I just couldn't look at him. I can't stand this!"

"I know," Blade said. "It's like one of our old missions—if you succeeded, nobody would ever hear about it. If it went badly, you got all the blame and hung-out to dry."

"But the polls," John McCain said. "How am I even in the running? The American people aren't stupid. What are they thinking? I thought Sarah Palin would have voters running away from me in droves—and here she's energizing the base! It doesn't make sense."

"You know the party," Blade said. "The leaders dictate, the followers follow. And by God, the followers will follow them right off of a cliff, if need be, all the while believing themselves to be the truest blue of patriots."

"That's not what this country fought in World War Two for," John McCain said, shaking his head. Then he chuckled. "I wonder if Limbaugh and his band of latrine-lickers are choking on my candidacy as much as I am?"

Blade laughed. "I'll bet he is, though that $400 million contract he signed may be some kind of consolation."

"Well, if I'm going to be hated, I may as well be hated by assholes." John McCain sipped his diet Fresca. "I guess we've got the age-old cover of ‘Who would ever believe this, anyhow?' don't we?"

Blade smiled: "John, you know, conspiracies don't happen in this country."

"Yeah, tell that the Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers."

"At least, your being crabby with the press is helpful to the cause."

"That's the only part that's not an act. I don't want to talk to anyone—don't want to see anyone. Jesus, to sit there taking questions from reporters about why my campaign's changed, and I've gotta say I don't know what they're talking about . . ." He trailed off.

"It'll soon be over."

"Yeah, but I keep worrying, ‘What if I win'?"

"Then you govern like you ought to govern. Prosecute Bush and Cheney. Jail the CEOs behind the financial crisis. Get this country the fuck out of Iraq."

"But if I win, that means Palin will be Number Two. You know as well as I do, that swaggering, ambitious cunt will bump me off before I'm finished my first bottle of Geritol as president."

"We've thought of that."

"Oh?"

"Of course. We've always had to plan for the contingency of you winning. Don't you worry, a few of those investigations in Alaska will bear fruit and Palin will have to resign as vice president not long after your first hundred days."

"But that gives her a hundred days to garrote me."

"Don't worry, John, you've got people looking out for you. And you'll be happy to know something else," Blade said.

"What's that?"

"We're announcing that we're pulling out of Michigan—all but conceding it to Obama."

"I like it." John McCain paused. "I won't cut and run in Iraq, but I'll abandon Michigan. If that doesn't pull me out of the running, I don't know what will."

"You betcha!" Blade said like a cast member of the movie Fargo. He and John McCain shared a belly laugh.

1 comment:

Dr. said...

wow! awesome post. thought provoking, too. nice job!