John McCain has a knack for the bizarre. But he outdid himself, appearing on Saturday Night Live the weekend before election day to make fun of it all.
It was evident from the polls that only a miracle could pull this election off for McCain. But the SNL appearance made it clear that there would be no miracle.
Why would Americans, sitting on the political fence, riddled with doubt and worried about their future, vote for a man running to be their president who could satirize the campaign two days before they would go to vote? The man telling them that their sons and daughters must remain to fight in Iraq, that the future of the nation supposedly rides on his message, making it all a big joke?
McCain's strange sense of propriety, of nobility, of being the gentleman, is to be above it all. So days before a crucial election he could play the clown on national TV. Yes, of course, the message is important. But he showed, for him, most important is process, not principle.
This accounts for McCain's also bizarre suspension of his campaign, at a crucial time after the Republican convention, when he was picking up momentum, to be part of the process in Washington to produce a bank bailout package.
The initial months of a new presidency, as we are about to witness once again, are crucial. A newly elected president uses the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, consolidate power, and begin moving his agenda.
When George W. Bush was elected to his first term, it was clear in those critical early days that there were already cracks in the Republican vessel. When Republicans on Capitol Hill should have been marching in lockstep with their new president, taking over after eight years of a Democrat in the White House, there was a distracting voice in the Senate.
John McCain. What was his obsession? Campaign finance reform.
A new Republican president needed to move a conservative agenda and a key Republican senator deflected focus with his personal obsession with process and not principles.
Back to the current campaign, we have McCain's troubled selection of Sarah Palin. Did McCain pick a conservative Christian because of his own convictions? Of course not. He concluded he had to placate the evangelical base. Did he move to find the best and most qualified person? Someone that voters could readily picture moving into the oval office if necessary? No, he wanted a woman to appeal to women.
Process, not principle.
Our nation is troubled today. Americans are worried and confused.
We are in a fog and Senator Obama held up his light and said follow me. John McCain touted his prowess at working with senators of the other party.
Now, of course, the soul-searching begins for the future of the Republican Party. The antidotes are flowing. So much pain and so little learned.
How can it be that even now many suggest that the problems of the party relate to process? They suggest that the party platform must change to appeal to this new constituency or reach out to that one?
Who is asking what do we believe to be true? What principles are crucial to assure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be born into and grow up in a strong and prosperous nation?
Those who suggest that Americans have turned liberal are not paying attention. In California, as Obama captured 61 percent of the popular vote. In the same election, Californians passed Proposition 8 — getting 71 percent of the black vote and 53 percent of the Latino vote — to codify traditional marriage in the state constitution
The future of the Republican Party is not in process but in restoring leadership for traditional American principles that are relevant to every demographic group, to every ethnic group, in every time.
Let the work begin.