Presidential candidate John McCain has seen his political fortunes rise in recent weeks. Once all but declared dead by the pundits, McCain has won a couple of Republican primaries and shows every sign of being the GOP front runner.
As we noted in our previous post, Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill has come out as a McCain supporter.
But the backlash has begun—and the McCain haters are turning up the rhetorical heat. Consider, for example, a letter by Tulsan Charles Dyer in Wednesday's Tulsa World.
Some highlights: McCain is a "grumpy old geezer" and a "smirking fake." He's "Amnesty John" who has "pandered to millions of lawbreakers and their apologists."
But that's not all. McCain "has opposed tax cuts" and supported the closing of Guantanamo, which will "unleash al-Qaida terrorists on the U.S. prison system." Worst of all, perhaps. the ACLU "must love this guy."
Finally this: "Amnesty John is known for his terrible temper and sanctimonious ways."
Whoa, Nelly! Next time, Mr. Dyer, tell us what you really think.
As usual, however, there's another side to the story. Mr. Dyer doesn't mention it, but McCain is also a war hero served as a Navy pilot in Vietnam (unlike, say, chickenhawks such as Dick Cheney, George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity), survived a devastating fire on the USS Forrestal in 1967 (you can look it up), was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese, survived five years as a POW and was tortured by his captors, was finally released and became a distinguished (though not perfect) Republican U.S. senator from Arizona.
AltTulsa doesn't always agree with Sen. McCain, it's true, but let's cut the guy some slack. Like him or not, McCain is an honorable man who has earned the respect of all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.
Based on his letter to the editor, Mr. Dyer is unwilling to grant even this courtesy to McCain, apparently because the senator is not sufficiently right-wing enough and unwilling to toe the conservative line on illegal immigration.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, of course. But we submit that this take no prisoners, scorched earth rhetoric is bad for the Republican Party and conservative politics. It's also bad for democracy, a political system that depends on some amount of good will and civil debate.
Assuming the very worst about your political foes may make some partisans feel good, but it does nothing to make the nation better or stronger.