Saturday, October 11, 2008

Me Thinks McCain Protests Too Much

What makes John McCain’s negative outbursts against his opponent Barack Obama so disgusting is the naked ambition so crudely on display. Sadly he comes off as someone desperate to put one more professional feather in his cap, to crown his long and some say distinguished military and political careers, by attaining the pinnacle of American success, the US presidency. It is a sense of entitlement that high achievers take for granted. Yet as evidenced by his increasingly erratic campaign behavior questions of his suitability for the job are raised, especially along side the near unflappable and (dare I say) elegant Mr. Obama.

McCain takes little pain to disguise contempt for his opponent, a man he clearly deems unworthy to contend with for the highest office in the land--no matter what he says to the contrary, his body language says it all. He seems intent on advancing his fortunes by exaggerated charges over Obama's early associations and inneundo about some secret anti-American agenda. Though both senators earn a certain respect for their achievement, Mr. McCain felt comfortable enough at one point during their second nationally televised sparing match to refer dismissively to Mr. Obama as “That one!” Not unlike the Kentucky politician who publicly chastised Mr. Obama as 'That boy".

Also jarring during the town hall Q&A was Mr. McCain’s nervous pacing even as Mr. Obama took his turn presenting carefully measured answers and rebuttals to moderator Tom Brokaw’s entreaties. There was something decidedly petulant and deliberately distracting in McCain's behavior.

Pulling Sara Palin out of a hat—or is ‘kennel’ a more appropriate metaphor?-- will no doubt go down as one the of the century’s neatest political sleights of hand. Over night her surprise selection energized the Republican base and the added sex appeal was like a hit of Viagra for a near moribund party. Her immediate and overwhelming acceptance though there was little known about her was a sure indication of the Republicans’ state of desperation.

A political noviceand relatively inexperienced governor representing one of the nation's smallest constituencies is being positioned to potentally succeed the country’s top executive, if god forbid something awful happened, was especially startling given McCain’s shaky health issues. Not to be insensitive, cancer survivors to a large statistical extent relapse. At age 72, there are myriad medical concern for an elder statesman given the stressful campaign schedule and his apoplexy temperament. There was probably good reason McCain let selected reporters scan his health records under stringent conditions.

What this election really comes down to for Republicans is the overriding yet muffled fear that having a Democrat in the White House presents the very real possibility of incriminating revelations coming to light about what sort of a criminal enterprise was conducted during the eight-year Bush term. The list of indictable crimes from illegal wiretapping of citizens, politically-motivated removal of federal attorneys, torture and detention without due process of ‘enemy combatants’ at Guantanamo, and the real cost in tax dollars of the Administrations many blunders and missteps, only skims the tip of the iceberg.

No doubt, revelations about how the nation’s business and the wars were conducted under Bush 43 will be overwhelming and provide the kind of media sensation that capture’s the nation’s collective appetite for revenge. No longer immune from the justice system are we to have high profile prosecutions and lengthy sentences doled out to disgraced powerbrokers—Gonzales, Card, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, et al? Can Bush pardon himself--and them-- before leaving office? I wouldn’t put it past Cheney to have already explored such a maneuver since he will no doubt need one as well. However, if McCain manages to pulls off the election, the crooks can rest easy.

Yet John McCain’s miscalculations and Barack Obama’s magnificently executed game plan should make it abundantly clean who is better able to deal with the crushing economic mess plunging the nation and our trading partners into despair and a possible second Depression. It doesn’t take much to recognize what a competent operation Mr. Obama has put together. The organization appears to run consistently cool and efficient. As a Harvard trained lawyer who was at the top of his class Mr. Obama shrewdly augments ‘book learning’ and practice with natural leadership assets. The potential good that his Presidency might bring to the country—the world even-- is tremendously inspiring.

Prior to recent revelation about his character, I personally had neutral feelings about John McCain. He survived horrific imprisonment and still managed to distinguish himself with a long second career of political service in both Houses of Congress. He and his beer heiress spouse Cindy even adopted a child of color. But in an earlier skirmish between McCain and Obama long before the latter was in the running, I wrote an email criticizing McCain for his behavior. He responded by snail mail with what looks like a letter he personally dictated and signed. Clearly, he was sensitive enough to the implications of racism and disrespect I brought up to respond with a congenial defense of his intent. As Obama climbs in the polls, McCain becomes more dangerous and pernicious. Winning at all costs seems to have become his mantra.

At the same there is no missing the irony of a former POW, who may or may not have sold his country upriver in captivity, trying to succeed an administration with an egregious record of abuse and torture of such captives held at the Gauntanamo gulag, tactics Bushies defend as necessary for speeding up intel. McCain taking office might be a kind of poetic justice.

Perhaps the passage of years and wider achievements have not completely deadened Mr. McCain's POW experience. Recently, he inadvertently referred to a crowd of supporter as “fellow prisoners” when he meant ‘citizens’. I don’t believe the ramifications of the slip have been adequately explored given the plausibility of such popular fiction as the Manchurian Candidate.

I would hate to think that Mr. McCain was experiencing some kind of brainwash-induced flashback, one the Viet Cong meticulously programmed during all those years of imprisonment and interrogation at the so-called 'Hanoi Hilton' prison. This dark area of McCann's resume demands closer scrutiny, by pundits and POW experts alike.

We live in times when anything is possible.

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