Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Defined by the quality of the competition

It isn't meant to be mean to say that Barack Obama's legacy as a presidential candidate is tied in no small way to the quality -- more specifically the lack thereof -- of his two rivals, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

They have demonstrated their presidential mettle in recent days, as you are likely aware.

With conservatives still in grief-stricken denial about their loss and the reasons why, it would be merciful -- and simplistic -- to chalk 2012 up to their powerful ignorance and dishonesty. But it would be more accurate to observe that, while Obama's presidential campaigns have been transformative (his presidency, not so much), it is also correct that his two relative mandates to govern have not been met with gracious concession or even professional courtesy on the part of his adversaries.

McCain's slow-motion implosion has been going on for at least five years. His enablers -- like Steve Schmidt and more recently Joe Lieberman, for example -- have gradually excused themselves to a safer distance. Romney's delusional tumble from a perch believed by him and everyone around him to be his birthright has been more clinically fascinating to observe. The photo that surfaced on Reddit this week of the $250 million dollar man in a wrinkled shirt, with disheveled hair, pumping his own gas in La Jolla, reveals the depression brought on by the crushing reality of defeat.

It would be easy to keep on laughing if he didn't look so much like someone who needs to call a suicide hotline. While Mitt needs an intervention, the embittered McCain and the Republicans who are still seething and ranting need some help of their own. Greg in the comments of this post is evidence of this unhealthy anger. (He's sent me additional comments which won't appear. He's in a timeout lasting at least through the end of the year.)

I've had high school friends, others I've known for decades, click the unfriend button on Facebook because they couldn't stand to have finally figured out that I am a "librul". And that was well before November 6. Their moods must be wretched since the election results came in a couple of weeks ago.

I'm going to enjoy my turkey and dressing with several members of my extended family tomorrow, some of whom are as hard-boiled Republican as they come. I hope they can manage the few hours okay. It's got to be awful tough for some of them, still.

Anyway, help a few of these people -- you know who they are in your life -- along in their stages of grief by being a little nicer than you normally would. They might not yet be able to appreciate it, but they deserve it just the same. Their transition to something approaching calm is important for all of us.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. And don't gloat. The time for mending fences is nigh.

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