I wish I had video to show you, but On Anderson Cooper 360 last night, there was a segment with Ed Rollins, David Gergen, and Paul Begala, and there was a look of palpable fear on the faces of Rollins and Gergen. Some of the commentary:
ROLLINS: The other fundamental question here is, how do you want to end your career, if John McCain ends his career? We’re now starting to lose — the potential is there to not only lose the Senate, but to lose the Senate leader, the Republican leader, to lose someone like Elizabeth Dole. We could lose 10 Senate seats. We could lose 25 House seats.
GERGEN: Wow. Do you really think 10? That’s the biggest number I have heard.
ROLLINS: There’s 12 of them in play. And I went through the list today. And it’s — it’s — the floor is dropping. And, so, all of a sudden, he needs to help his party. He’s the leader of his party.***
COOPER: There’s also the question of ruling after this, and bringing the country together. It’s going to be all the more harder to do that whoever wins with all this anger out there.
GERGEN: This — I think one of the most striking things we’ve seen now in the last few day. We’ve seen it in a Palin rally. We saw it at the McCain rally today. And we saw it to a considerable degree during the rescue package legislation. There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we’re not far from that.
GERGEN: I think it’s so — well, I really worry when we get people — when you get the kind of rhetoric that you’re getting at these rallies now. I think it’s really imperative that the candidates try to calm people down. And that’s why I’ve argued not only because of the question of the ugliness of it.
But I think McCain ought to get his campaign off the road and look at the — and get the best economic minds in the country together and come back Monday, Tuesday, with a really serious speech. He’s the one who ought to be buying TV time, talking to the country.
These are dangerous times. People are frantic and losing their jobs, they are terrified about the future. Years of Republican dominance are coming to an end. The market is crashing. We are in two wars. And right now, it looks like a young black man may be the next President, and after thirty years of culture war, there is a firm “us” vs. “them” mentality at play in the heartland.
And what the McCain campaign is doing, whipping their supporters into a froth, is dangerous. This “he’s buddies with terrorists” is irresponsible beyond just the fact that it is nonsense. Gergen has been around a while, and he chooses his words carefully- incendiary, he said.
I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but what we are really seeing is the beginning of a right wing story line about the next president of the United States — he is a drug user, a foreigner, a terrorist and a traitor. And the importance of that is that it gives permission to the right wing machine to do anything and everything to destroy him. He will not really be president, you see. He will be illegitimate — a usurper.
I just hope the Secret Service know what they are doing. I was talking to my father last night, who is still a Republican and who thinks I am being short-sighted and erratic myself with my support for a Democrat after years of being a Republican, thinks there is reason for concern. On the phone, he was audibly shaken by the tone of the campaign- “Have you heard some of the things they are shouting at the rallies? I am afraid where this is heading.”
I hope he is wrong. I fear he is right.
*** Update ***
Add Joe Klein to the list of the old hands who have been around for some elections who are concerned:
Watch the tape of the guy screaming, “He’s a terrorist!” McCain seems to shudder at that, he rolls his eyes… and I thought for a moment he’d admonish the man. But he didn’t. And now he’s selling the Ayres non-story full-time. Yes, yes, it’s all he has. True enough: he no longer has his honor. But we are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower. But McCain hasn’t done the right thing all year. His campaign is appalling, as the New York Times editorial board said today–and more, it is a national disgrace.
But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies – not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.
For God’s sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first.
These are scary and uncertain times.
More here on the angry right.
James Joyner says this is overblown. I hope he is right.