“What is honor? A word. What is in that word honor? What is that honor? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a’Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. ‘Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will’t not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I’ll none of it, honor is a mere scutcheon.” Sir John Falstaff Henry IV, Part 1
We are not told whether Sir John Falstaff was, in his youth, an honorable man, but in his old age he clearly abandons honor for safety and comfort. John McCain was an honorable man in his youth, was honorable as recently as 2000, when he ran an honest and honorable campaign against an opponent that lied and distorted and smeared, and he lost. In 2008 he has abandoned honor for the hope of winning.
He has sold his soul to the religious right, embracing those he quite rightly called “agents on intolerance” eight years ago. He has abandoned the veterans we have an obligation to care for voting against their interests, and opposing a G. I. Bill that would provide educational benefits because it would encourage young men and women who have fulfilled their obligation to the country to leave the service and get an education. And in my mind most telling, the man who was himself tortured, who says he opposes torture, voted against a bill that wound have prohibited American agents from torturing prisoners.
Now that he has the nomination, and the campaign is in full swing, he and his running mate can’t seem to stop lying. They lie, and are caught, and tell the same lie again the next day. Either they have such bad memories that they forget the lie has already been exposed, or they think the voters are stupid. In a complete abandonment of any sense of honor, McCain is now trying to make Obama responsible for McCain’s lies, claiming that if Obama had only agreed to town hall meetings, the campaign would not have gotten nasty. Whether such meetings would have been a good idea or not is irrelevant. The only one responsible for your lies, for your slimey ad campaign, Senator McCain is you. You tell the lies; you let your face appear on the ads approving their content. Senator Obama declining to appear in your prefered forum is no excuse. You made the decision to abandon honor for the sake of your ambition.
Sir John Falstaff was also ambitious. Having been the crown prince’s drinking buddy, he thought he would be in the inner circle when Prince Hal became King Henry, but Henry rejects him, saying “I know thee not, old man, fall to thy prayers. How ill white hairs becomes a fool and jester! I have long dreamt of such a kind of man, so surfeit-swell’d, so old. and so profane; but being awak’d, I do despise my dream.”
We can only hope that the voters will be wide awake in November.