I remember the day when John McCain used to be that Republican that we Democrats kind of liked.

Then came the 2008 presidential campaign.

I can’t exactly fault McCain for steering hard to the right; he was, after all, trying to win the Republican primary and then energize the party’s base in the general election.

Still, there are plenty of nuts in the Republican Party ( to be fair, there are plenty of nuts in the Democratic Party, too), and I wish McCain would have done a better job of calling out those radical contingents of his party.

There was, of course, his decision to choose Sarah Palin as a running mate.  There was that time when a woman at a rally called Obama an “Arab,” to which McCain replied, “No, no, he’s a decent family man.”  (As if the two were mutually exclusive!) There was his insistence on bringing the Bill Ayers conspiracy into the election. And–one of the things that enraged me most–was McCain’s and Palin’s repeated attacks on government spending on fruit-fly-DNA research. (Anyone who’s taken a high school biology class knows that drosophila research has provided some of the most important insights into our understanding of DNA!)

But now, McCain has come out with a new ad attacking J.D. Hayworth, his opponent in the Republican primary, for aligning himself with the birther movement.

As TNR’s Jonathan Chait noted, McCain deserves credit for stepping up and labelling conspiracy-theorist nuts for what they are.  Mainstream Republicans have, for the most part, been shy to alienate the far-right elements of its party–Tea Partiers and birthers–and I hope McCain’s ad encourages others to come out and do the same.

People like Hayworth deserve to be told the truth: Your views detract from the level of political discourse in this country, and you have no business governing. Props, John McCain.

Photo Credit: Flickr / Rona Proudfoot

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