In a word…not much.

Mr. McCain is now the emerging leader of a political party in this country that USED to stand for limited government, low taxes, fiscal responsibility and a strong, but controlled military that would be used only as a last resort and then, only sparingly.

Instead, the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan has allowed itself to be hijacked by the far right so-called “Christian” fundamentalists who see it as their bounden duty to initiate and then wage seemingly endless “holy wars” of “pre-emption” against an “enemy” whose principal sin has been that they happen to share a different religion and have been fighting fiercely for the last 5 years to extricate an occupying army (ours) who invaded their sovereign nation illegally.

Now, along comes John McCain, who, defying the expectations of almost everyone who watched him last summer…myself included…has risen from the political ash heap to wrap up the GOP nomination. And the ONLY reason he has survived this long is because the political pabulum he keeps preaching…winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan militarily…. is the last great (and I would say ONLY) hope the Republican Party now has left to sell in this country, particularly among its own far right followers.

Clearly, by adding some $4 Trillion (with a “T”) to the national debt since Mr. Bush took office, they certainly can no longer offer themselves up as the party of fiscal responsibility. And by silently condoning the shenanigans of the growing list of Senator Larry Craigs and Congressman Tom Foleys in their midst, their steadfast insistence that they, alone, represent the party of “family values” reeks with hypocrisy.

And, as if that weren’t enough, with the horrifically bungled military strategy they concocted in waging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (remember the “Mission Accomplished” banner?) they obviously can’t now sell themselves as militarily competent.

What’s more, by adding hoards of stupid, Homeland Security goon squads to an already over-bloated federal bureaucracy (armed with standing orders to strip search us at airports, tap our telephones at will, sift through all our e-mails, and then tell us we are “more secure” from an enemy that they, themselves have created) they certainly can’t pass themselves off as the party of “smaller government” either.

And, finally, with gasoline now headed north of $4 per gallon, and with once solid banks losing hundreds of billions of dollars in capital all the while even fiscally responsible people are losing their homes to foreclosure, they can no longer champion themselves as good stewards of the US economy.

Sadly, all they REALLY have left to offer the American people is an increasingly pitiful, knee-jerk, flag-waving illusion of pseudo-patriotism…a promise to keep selling world politics as a Rat Patrol TV rerun to an ever-aging (and therefore ever-shrinking) Middle America who want absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the world has fundamentally and completely changed since they (or their fathers) came home from World War II.

Unfortunately, Mr. McCain’s rise from political obscurity is living, breathing proof that we should never, EVER underestimate America’s capacity for self-delusion.

Thanks in large measure to the OTHER wild-eyed (but also horrifically incompetent) self-deluded idealist from Mr. McCain’s party now occupying the White House, our country is up to its armpits in one of the biggest foreign-policy disasters of all time…a whole series of imperialistic (spelled: “Constitutionally unsupportable”) military misadventures which will make our country infamous for generations to come in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Yet, here comes Senator McCain, still spewing this same old, Cold War era, militaristic buffoonery by promising his ever-dwindling group of followers that we still can (and must!) win militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan because it is our God-given destiny to rule the world so as to keep it safe for government clerks.

It is becoming ever more obvious why Mr. McCain has now emerged as the Republican front-runner. Clearly, the “win we must” dogma he keeps spewing is all that he (and his party) now have left in their political arsenal that has even the slightest chance of being sold to an ever more ignorant American public.

It would all be comic if it wasn’t’ so sad

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