I don't mean just the normal faux outrage-of-the-day that both sides engage in during campaigns. And I don't mean just the normal distaste for the other side's candidate. That's obvious and inevitable. Rather, it's a sense — a deep and genuine sense — that they believe an Obama presidency would be so weak and so feckless that it might lead to the eventual destruction of the country. A regular correspondent put it this way last night: "I've always felt that the R's are simply in a state of apocalyptic aggrievement and that the presidency is the last best way to hold-off the downfall of civilization."
Alternatively, Matt Yglesias takes a look at John McCain's record on foreign threats and describes it this way:
In short, not only is Russia on the march beyond Tbilisi to Ukraine, Finland, and substantial swathes of Poland but that's not even the transcendent issue of our time. And North Korea's nuclear program is "the greatest challenge to U.S. security and world stability today" but that's not the transcendent issue of our time. And Islamism is the transcendent issue of our time, but not a serious international crisis or an especially great challenge to U.S. security and world stability. Now of course there's no way to make sense of that, because it's not supposed to make any kind of sense. McCain just thinks that overreacting is the right reaction to everything. It's a hysteria-based foreign policy.I know I'm not making an original point here. Conservatives, and neoconservatives in particular, have always thrived on a sense of being surrounded by manifest, civilization-threatening dangers. But somehow, even compared to their usual hysteria level, they seem to have turned their internal threat-o-meters up to 11 for this campaign. They're convinced that Russia is on the march, China is on the rise, Islam is a transcendent threat, we live on the cusp of world historical times, and if Barack Obama becomes president we're all probably doomed. And that's one reason the campaign has gotten so nasty. If you think the survival of the nation is at stake, you're certainly not going to be worried about a bit of freelance political smearing, are you?