PAT LaMARCHE

McCain scapegoating

Posted June 21, 2011, at 4:59 p.m.

By blaming the Arizona wildfires on undocumented workers, Sen. John McCain has cashed in his last credibility chip on the political crapshoot he has played ever since he ran for president in 2008.  And honestly — as a huge fan of our honorable fighting men and women in this country — I was crestfallen when I saw this war hero finger-point at a whole class of people without a single shred of evidence.

Sadly, we should have seen this coming. McCain has gone steadily downhill for years. It likely happened sometime early in 2008 when he started courting the Bush White House for support.  Still, I thought the delusion had peaked when he proclaimed that Sarah Palin would be a great vice president of the United States. No sane man could actually feel safe with the notion that he might die in office and leave the entire world in the hands of a woman who threw her own children to the hungry wolves in the press and the Democratic Party.

I don’t really know who horrified me more — Palin for accepting the nomination to run for VP as an abstinence-only candidate with a teenage pregnant-out-of-wedlock daughter or John McCain for not caring enough to choose another candidate so that Bristol would not become a political football tossed to angry opposing linebackers. Only a fool or a bad parent would put a child in the spotlight at such a delicate and vulnerable time in her life.

I’m willing to accept the premise that Palin’s a fool and I’ll use allegations of Paul Revere’s traitorous ride as exhibit A. But I’m going to have to go with bad parent for John McCain.

See, McCain making a flawed pick for his running mate has been explained by the fact that he didn’t do enough research and it appears the same excuse is used for his claims about undocumented workers setting Arizona wildfires.

Had he done a little research into Sarah Palin, the man who got pilloried by the Bush campaign team with false accusations that his adopted baby of color was actually an illegitimate offspring would have known that Bristol was in harm’s way.

But if he did research Palin’s private life and chose her anyway — well then he’s worse than a bad parent making ignorant choices that have negative consequences; he’s a bad man willfully putting others in harm’s way.

Ever since 2008, McCain has struggled to prove to a constituency of unreasonable “I got mine” racist voters that he can be as selfish and shortsighted as they are. Back in 2006, the reasonable earlier incarnation of this United States senator had actually — according to the ultra-right Washington Times, which pointed this out as a way to denigrate McCain — voted, “in favor of S. 2611, legislation that would reward between 10 and 11 million illegals with amnesty if they apply for legal status and pay a $2,000 fine.”

I’d like to note that my spell check didn’t recognize the slang term “illegals” as a real word and neither do I, but unfortunately the xenophobes insist on using this ugly term and it is embedded in the quote.

This sort of constant dehumanizing barrage from the right seems to be the blow that caused McCain’s recent assault on a class of people that U.S. citizens are now propagandized to fear as arsonists.

He chose his words carefully. When McCain said undocumented workers “set fires to keep warm” he more correctly should have said “light fires to keep warm.” Not once in all my years camping up at Moosehead Lake do I remember being asked to set fire to something so we could make s’mores.

It amazes me that this war hero U.S. senator can’t see the similarities between his unfounded remarks and every racist and propagandist in U.S. history from Cotton Mather of the Salem Witch Trials to Joseph McCarthy of the Committee on Un-American Activities.  And I’ll point out, their victims were innocent, too.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.

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