23 February 2008

To Cross The Aisle With John McCain

I always thought that I had a pretty good sense of direction. It's in my blood. After all, my Viking ancestors crossed the ocean in rowboats and somehow found the Vinland they sought on crisp Canadian shores. But apparently my Scandinavian senses are underdeveloped . . . which explains why I miss the melodic mark whenever I belt out Varjojen Virta on a Ram's Horn. You see, some time during the past few years some heavy hitters in the GOP changed direction and, unlike Leif Erikson, I'm still paddling around trying to figure out what happened.

It was only 8 years ago (that's 56 years to any clever blogging Border Collies reading this post) when I heard my friends on talk radio promise an end to the divisive politics that sustained the Clinton White House. And while I hadn't supported Dubya during the primaries, I believed that he could reach across the aisle and get things done. He had strong bloodlines, he was a man of action, and he had that endearing thing that he does to the English language. What's not to love? Then there was the way he corralled both Republicans and Democrats while he was Governor of Texas. If he could get those self-determined Cowboys and girls working together, how hard would it be for him to reach across the aisle in Washington after 8 years of Clinton conflict?

We all know now that, beyond the wake of 9/11, Bush failed to deliver the unity promised by his "compassionate conservatism." We all accept that. We all move on.

What troubles me now is the reaction from ultra-conservatives to the fact that John McCain actually has reached across to "the enemy." Some of the same people who touted Dubya's ability to unify now criticize the fact that McCain has actually done it. He's considered a traitor to the cause because of McCain-Kennedy, as if he didn't wash his hands afterward. His participation in the bipartisan Gang of Fourteen is thought more shocking than Tony dancing with Maria in West Side Story. Come on, John! When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day.

I obviously missed the turn so somebody tell me, when did finding common ground become so distasteful to us? Of the three remaining Presidential frontrunners (McCain, Clinton and Obama . . . sorry, Mike) only John McCain has a chance to break down some of the walls of Washington. Only McCain has the moderate appeal and collegial respect to successfully cross the aisle when necessary. Is that really such a bad thing?