It was a sunny, warm fall Friday afternoon….the 10th of October last year…in the Minneapolis suburb of Lakeville, Minnesota. John McCain had made a swing through western Wisconsin earlier in the day, which is why a lot of folks still think the incident happened in the Badger state. He was at a town hall meeting in the quiet Minnesota community just east of Marion Lake.
The McCain-Palin campaign was running out of steam. I think they knew, by the time that gorgeous fall afternoon rolled around, that Barack Obama was going to win the election. But John McCain is not the kind of man who quits because the odds are against him. His running mate was somewhere else that day, no doubt making more ugly, untruthful accusations about their Democratic opponent.
At the Republican town hall meeting in Lakeville, a grandmotherly lady took the microphone, and said to John McCain about Barack Obama, accusatorially, “he’s an Arab”. I’ll never forget the look on McCain’s face, and the demeanor of his body language, as he reached out, took the mike away from the lady, and said “No ma’am. No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment, which you can relive easily on YouTube. It said to me that at long last, the Senator from Arizona had a sense of decency.
Two days later, on Sunday the 12th, the man who became known as “Joe the Plumber” - a man whose real first name is Sam, and not a licensed plumber - would rise to his 15 minutes of fame.
Back on the 9th of June in 1954, the infamous Junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, was grilling a lawyer named Joseph Welch on national TV. It was during the Army-McCarthy hearings, and Welch was General Counsel for the Army. You can easily find this video on YouTube, too. McCarthy accused one of Welch’s law partners, young man named Fred Fisher, of being a communist.
Welch pushed back hard at the bully from Appleton, who seemed to think the United States was overrun with commies. Welch said “At long last, have you no sense of decency, sir?”. Historians say that was the point where America finally had enough of Joe McCarthy.
McCarthy, as it turned out, had no sense of decency. He died a broken and disgraced man.
I’m wondering, although I think I know the answer, if Sarah Palin will ever come to a point where she discovers a sense of decency, and stops ginning up falsehoods about “Obama Death Squads” and all the other outrageous statements she’s made about health insurance reform.
There may not be a YouTube moment, but perhaps we can hope that some day sooner, rather than later, she’ll make another “Status Update” on her notorious Facebook page, and say “all the stuff I posted about death panels and pulling the plug on grandma was just to prank you”.