Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Sun

26

Oct

2008

McCain Flames Out - Brokaw Burns Viewers and Self... Can Obama Pilot a Phoenix?
Sunday, 26 October 2008 10:09
by James McEnteer

According to Tim Dickinson’s informative Rolling Stone biography, John McCain crashed three airplanes in his career as a pilot. Most famously, he bailed out of his stricken fighter jet in Vietnam, ending up in a military prison. In Tuesday’s debate McCain went down in flames once again. He will be able to walk away from this crash like the others, but not into the White House.

McCain crashed because he ran out of fuel. Sputtering, repetitive, cranky, he went through the motions of engagement with the questions, the issues and the debate. But his heart wasn’t in it. Nor, really, was his brain. He missed his main chance eight years ago. Even he must know that now. But he’s got nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. Oddly similar to the current occupant of the White House.

Debate moderator Tom Brokaw showed that he has overstayed his welcome on national television. Brokaw’s bland demeanor, flat Midwestern cadence and faint, Elmer Fuddy lisp were all he needed to read news headlines aloud for decades. But when the presidential debaters blocked Old Tom’s teleprompter on Tuesday, he waved them testily out of his way. Though all he had left to say was “Good Night and Good Luck.” Tom’s lavish NBC salary bought him a Montana ranch, where he should go now and try to git along with the little dogies, in the land of Brokaw dreams.

Some debate moderators are too passive. But Brokaw went the other way, breaking off conversation and hushing up the candidates, who never did manage to cut loose and talk real talk. “The format!” Old Tom screeched. “Remember the format you signed off on months ago…” But Brokaw himself had opened the show by saying that the world had changed mightily in the past ten days. Screw the format. 

And screw Tom sticking in his own personal extra questions. Contrary to Brokaw’s belief, his opinion is not worth more than that of the “ordinary citizens” invited to observe the debate on stage and ask questions. And were those people drugged or threatened to render them docile enough for prime time? Or is that just Who We Are Now? Brokaw represents a tiny demographic of wealthy East Coast insiders. He is as out of touch with the pain and confusion of average people as the candidates are. He’s in the same bubble, floating above it all.

Where the hell is Howard Beale when we need him?

We needed Howard there on Tuesday night to divert these candidates from tossing canned chunks of their stump speeches at the audience. Understandably, after two years of non-stop campaigning, both men are exhausted. Neither one intends to expend an ounce more of thought or rhetoric than necessary. Like fighters in the late rounds, they are dazed. They just want it all to be over, even more than we do. Obama only raised his gloves – and his game – high enough to ward off the tired blows from the once mighty McCain.

But Obama on cruise control isn’t good enough. He needs to be prodded into new modes of thinking, not the old failed frames McCain continues to brag about mastering and Brokaw continues to ask about rescuing. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill are as sunken as Atlantis. We don’t need someone who can reach across the aisle, but across the globe. The days of Cold War bluster and parochial thinking are not just gone, but inimical to a rational world order that we can either help to shape or struggle to catch up with later.

McCain is a dinosaur. The earth still shakes and the hills shudder with his roars. But they are dying roars, from dying wars. It does no good to refight them now. We can’t do Us against Them anymore. We can’t afford it financially, morally or psychologically. It is time to take a leaf from Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine,” but in reverse, to build a new, inclusive social model from the rubble of the moral and economic meltdown that confronts us right now. You can almost hear the paradigm shifting. But we must not allow low forms of political life, the Bush-Cheney-McCain types, to act as the stewards of these new changes. The will only subvert them.

Frustrated, frightened American voters are ready for radical changes in the system that has now betrayed them. It is time to ask big, fundamental questions about the kind of world we want to live in, the kind of world we want to make. Barack Obama may or may not be capable of asking those questions and leading that more meaningful debate among his countrymen. John McCain is not. How do we get there from here? That’s what we need to ask. And demand an answer.

James McEnteer is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger 2006).
More from this author:
The Pain And Power Of Memory (3290 Hits)
by James McEnteer - Cali, Colombia It looks like just another store front in this burgeoning city of two and a half million people in...
Colombia: the High Cost of Free Trade (4373 Hits)
by James McEnteer Colombian President Alvaro Uribe came to Washington last week – along with a huge retinue to lobby Congress - seeking a...
The Crime of Incumbency (3665 Hits)
by James McEnteer In poll results released Sunday, Rasmussen Reports says that 59 % of American voters would like to replace the entire...
The Year of Unreliable Witnesses (3335 Hits)
by James McEnteer Joe The Plumber, aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, has become a kind of bellwether for the 2008 presidential campaign, though it is...
The Times Comes Out for Corporate Profits over Human Rights (2428 Hits)
by James McEnteer The New York Times November 18 editorial urging passage of a free-trade agreement with Colombia is factually challenged and...
Related Articles:
Is Barack Obama Ready to Be Leader of the Free World? (4907 Hits)
by Ed Kociela The question isn't if America is ready for a black president. The question is if Barack Obama is ready to be president. ...
After Democrats Pick Obama or Hillary, U.S. Election May Be Over (4183 Hits)
by ddjango Looks like the fat lady won't even have to stretch her pipes. This from Xinjingbao, in China (reprinted in full): After...
Obama Steps Up For Wounded Troops (4059 Hits)
by Bob Geiger In the wake of the scandal surrounding the conditions endured by some Veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Senator...
"The Secret": Creating A Culture Of Cheerfulness As Rome Burns (5046 Hits)
by Carolyn Baker A friend recently asked me what I knew about The Secret, and I had to confess, absolutely nothing. A couple of days later, ...
While McCain Walks in McNamara’s Footsteps (6071 Hits)
by Norman Solomon The media spectacle that John McCain made of himself in Baghdad on April 1 was yet another reprise of a ghastly ritual....


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top