Thursday, February 07, 2008

John McCain is thrown into the lion's den

Nice kitties!

Remember the Old Testament story about Daniel, the adviser to King Darius, who, through the political manipulations of his enemies, was thrown into a den of hungry lions?
When King Darius put the good and wise Daniel in charge of all the presidents and princes, they vowed to seek revenge on Daniel. They convinced the king to sign a law making it a crime for a man to seek the help of any god or man, except the king, for 30 days. The punishment was to be thrown into a den of hungry lions. They then told the king that Daniel prayed to his God three times a day and was unfaithful to the king. King Darius was forced to throw Daniel into the lion's den. Then a great stone was laid upon the mouth of the den.
Alas, for John McCain. It seems that he is something of a modern-day Daniel. As his delegate count has risen, he has more and more become the target of extreme right-wing vitriol that has heretofore been reserved for Bill or Hillary Clinton or John Kerry or Ted Kennedy.

The deliverers of this vitriol are none other than the most rabid of right-wing pontificates: Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, et alia. According to them strict adherence to a solid party line is required. Any slight deviation is viewed as apostasy. This destructive bent is yet another result of the slash-and-burn political brinkmanship of Karl Rove.

Well, McCain knows that, unless he can somehow becalm the roiling waters of the Republican base that is supposedly represented by these media blow-hards, his candidacy (which is already faced with the daunting task of overcoming the miasma of the Bush legacy) is doomed. Yesterday, McCain even went so far as to urge his critics on the right to "just calm down."

Well, today he is thrust into the lion's den. Specifically, he is going to address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This is an event that is fraught with peril. Not only for John McCain, who, rumor has it, faces the possibility of being booed off the stage, but for the Republican party in general. For this analogy, I've cast McCain as the "good and wise Daniel," but he has a notoriously bad temper and it will be interesting to see how he responds if things go badly.

I believe that what we are actually witnessing are the opening salvos of the ideological war that is about to take place within the Republican party in the wake of the devastation wrought by Junior Bush. Many Republicans believe (whether they admit it or not) that this administration is going to be judged harshly by history and that the coming election will be a crucible of pain for them. They are preparing themselves to be exiled to the wilderness for a time.

But now the question becomes (staying with the biblical metaphors) who is to be their Moses? Will it be Senator John McCain who, from the right-wing point of view, is a compromiser, an ideologically contaminated hack who will surrender the cherished tenets of the cobbled-together coalition of ultra-rich corporate titans and frightened religious zealots? Or is there someone else, anyone else, that can take point during the inevitable march across the desert that is to come?

Returning to the story of Daniel:
The king went home and grieved. He arose early in the morning and hurried to the den of lions, crying out, "O Daniel, thou servant of the living God, has thy God been able to deliver thee from the lions?" Daniel responded from within, "O King, live forever. My God has sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths that they have not hurt me, because I have not sinned against him; and also, unto thee, O King, I have done no wrong."
Daniel was released from the lion's den. King Darius then praised Daniel's God as the living God whose kingdom would never be destroyed and whose power would never end.
Well, I suppose the "living God" that McCain is hoping will deliver him from the ravenous lions is the phantom of Ronald Reagan. We'll soon see how that turns out for him. Regardless, the GOP is on the cusp of a vicious, fratricidal war that is sure to destroy many people who richly deserve to be destroyed.

I find it all delicious, personally. In their take-no-prisoners donnybrook, the Republicans, and most particularly the right-wing extremists within that party, will expose each other's hypocrisies and callowness. The ravenous electoral lions that were created by Republican appeals to bigotry and religious zealotry have grown to adulthood and are now rabid and raging, tearing apart the world around them.

Schadenfreude? You bet your ass!

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