V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer
McCain's tears of disapp

McCain-Palin ticket gets the axe

Published in The Toronto Sun and Sun Media papers, Nov. 5, 2008.

Phoenix, Ariz – Americans gave Sen. John McCain the pink slip last night.

Much like the 760,000 Americans who lost their jobs this year in an economic fallout the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression, Americans told the 72-year-old Arizona senator he and the GOP have become redundant.

In his speech on the lawn in of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, McCain offered his congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama, and mentioned the passing of his grandmother as a tragedy at an historic time. He also conceded Obama’s sound victory.

“We’ve come to the end of a long journey. And the American people have spoken, and spoken clearly,” McCain said, his face tired and wan.

Faces in the crowd were long, some shedding tears and disappointment, and anger palpable in the crowd, with boos and defiance.

McCain also acknowledged the historic victory for African-Americans in his speech, described as one of the most gracious of concession speeches.

Supporters had earlier filed into the hotel, flying their red pom poms high with the hopes of pulling off an upset and proving the pundits wrong. But when word spread McCain failed to win key battleground states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia and Ohio, wan faces stared at the big screen in front of them and the pom poms lay limp a their sides. No Republican president has won an election without taking Ohio.

Still, some Republicans refused to concede defeat, even when defeat was irrefutable.

“We believe God sets rulers in their position and God will have the final say,” said Angela Smith, 28, dressed to the nines in American regalia.

It’s the same fighting spirit McCain displayed through the longest presidential race in history.

Known for thriving on the underdog status, McCain blitzed, pushed, stormed and shouted his way hoarse in the final stretch, appealing to crowds in Colorado at the 11th hour yesterday to “Stand up. Stand up. Stand up and fight.”

Others, like Chris Fulbright, 27, blamed the Republican defeat on McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin.

“It was a good run,” he said. “But Palin was the main factor.”

Others gushed at Palin’s performance, blaming the media for her bad rap, and said she had reignited a tired party.

The Republicans never let up, hoping that while Obama had the popular vote in nationwide polls, McCain would pick up the electoral vote in the end, as happened with previous elections that defeated John Kerry and Al Gore.

There was no “October surprise,” known to derail momentum.  In the 2004 election, a video of Osama bin Laden aired and delivered victory to President George W. Bush, quashing Democratic candidate John Kerry’s presidential hopes.

The “Bradley effect” that was posited to deliver McCain a surprise victory never materialized – a phenomenon where closeted racists thwart poll results by telling pollsters they plan to vote for a black candidate, then vote otherwise come election day.

At the Biltmore, Palin’s uncle flew in from Washington State to be with his niece, and praised her hootzpah.

“She is an intelligent woman with goals and ambitions,” said Dick Finch. “She started out as a city councilor because she decided she could do a better job than the mayor. She ran for governor and now she’s  a vice-presidential nominee. She’s an amazing woman with a big future ahead of her.”

College student Dene Rankin agreed, praising Palin as a role model.

“She brought charisma to the campaign.”

Earlier yesterday, voters at the Albright United Methodist Church started lining up at 4:30 a.m. to make sure their votes would be counted in the history books.

Registered Republican Kimberley Ashley broke with tradition and was up at 5:30 a.m. to cast a vote for Obama.

“It’s not a typical answer but I believe he has a higher consciousness,” Ashley, 49, said. “I think he’s more spiritually awakened and that he’ll make different choices based on that and not on external forces.”

The McCain campaign fought through a “perfect storm of bad circumstances,” said University of British Columbia political science professor Paul Quirk, U.S. citizen and recent Canadian transplant.

There was McCain’s inextricable connection with the deeply unpopular Bush administration, from which he couldn’t escape; the economic crisis his party is blamed for steering; and his own failures t run an effective campaign.

But the final death knell for the Republican Party was the “Barracuda” herself, Sarah Palin, Quirk said.

“The most important aspect was his poor choice of a vice-presidential candidate.”

Meanwhile, another expert and American citizen has a different opinion.

“McCain’s biggest problem wasn’t Palin or the economy,” said University of Toronto political science professor Renan Levine. “It was Bush.”

McCain voted for bills favoured by Bush, the most unpopular president in  U.S. history, 90 per cent of the time. Earlier this year, Bush had a disapproval rating of 69 per cent.

As for McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin – both vilified for having dragged down the Republican ticket and praised for reigniting a tired party – Quirk said she’ll be one to watch.

“My own view is that it’s highly likely she’ll be transformed into a presidential candidate,” he said.

“She has intense support from a substantial portion of the Republican electorate and could do well to raise money for the campaign.”

There are four years to groom the foreign-policy deficient candidate, he said.

“They have time to prepare her for the presidency.”

Republican Therese Appelby said win or lose, she was proud of what the election did for her country.

“He’s done a wonderful job,” she said. “I think the election as great. It brought the issues to the forefront and has been a success, unlike any other.”

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