Two days ago, Senator John McCain, speaking before supporters and trailing in nearly every poll announced: “My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them.” He said that without laughing. Really.
Watching America collapse under the yolk of Republican ideologues this past eight years has been a gut-wrenching experience. One of the ways I have, personally, survived has been through the use of humor. After all, comedy is the flip side of tragedy, right?
There are times, however, when I am prone to deep philosophical musings of an almost existential nature. Admittedly, it’s usually after six boilermakers, a viewing of “Old Yeller” and right about the same time as I find the reading lamp a great conversationalist. But, hell, I’ll take my philosophical musings where I can find them. Which brings us to John McCain, the Republican equivalent of the last fifteen minutes of “Old Yeller” on a tape loop…but with a slapstick pie fight thrown in for good measure.
McCain has taken the seriocomic status of George W. Bush and squared it in record time. That’s quite an accomplishment, my friends.
McCain and Bush share a common background. Both are the sons of privilege. Both have father issues. Both are borderline average, with doors magically opening for them because of their lineage. Bush was a screw-up in every business venture he ever touched, was a lousy governor and, probably, the worst President of the United States ever. His father or his father’s friends bailed him out of nearly every scrape he got himself into.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
McCain, the son and grandson of admirals, was, as a lad, a – what’s that technical term I’m grasping for – prick. As an adult, he became an older prick. Because of his military family, he was promoted in the Navy until, finally, he couldn’t be promoted anymore without half of the service having to don wax lips.
His nickname was “McNasty.” At Annapolis, he was saved from expulsion by family interference and graduated 894th out of 899. Aside from his stint as a POW, his biggest achievement was in crashing three planes because of recklessness and causing a blackout in Spain while hot-dogging it through power lines.
After being assured by the Navy that he wasn’t going to become an admiral, McCain used his POW status as a neon hairshirt and entered politics. His voting record shows his interest in one thing: the advancement of John McCain. McCain would and will say and/or do anything to accrue more power.
I sincerely believe that the biggest difference between Bush and McCain is that Bush has sociopathic tendencies. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what cost his actions may bring to others. In the middle of the current financial crisis, he claimed that he was glad he was at the helm when it occurred; never once considering the fact that he and his minions were largely responsible for it. If Alfred E. Neuman found Jesus, he’d be re-christened “Bush.”
I believe McCain knows what he’s doing. Maybe, he even regrets it. That makes him the sadder of the two and, also, the more dangerous. He has built a career on lies and exaggerations and, now, he somewhat believes them. Like most spoiled kids, he has lived in a bubble. Today, he’s not only battling his own demons but the new and ugly presence of reality.
With his Cryptkeeper’s grin and his total lack of empathy for the “regular folks” he champions, McCain has resorted to the kind of campaign ethics Karl Rove made famous – only he’s screwed it up.
McCain exudes the type of cheerful bitterness found in a lot of old Boris Karloff movies (“They laughed at me at the academy! Laughed! But behold my creation!” Enter: a blob of jello with the head of a gorilla.). As a young man, he was P.O.’d because he was short. (For the record, I am shorter. I remember a high school science teacher telling my mother he was giving me a passing grade because “You never mess with a short guy. When you turn your back, they’ll hit you with a chair.”)
McCain married an ex-model, a tall willowy woman. He called her his “long tall Sally.” He dropped her after she had a car accident and 23 operations that shortened her stature some five inches.
He then married another willowy beauty, 18 years his junior and heir to a family fortune. The cocky bantamweight was now, monetarily, a heavyweight. Politics was the logical next step.
McCain has been forthcoming about his desire to be President for years. His nomination in 2000 was sandbagged by Bush and Rove and some truly dirty tricks. He’s never really gotten over that… no matter how many hugs he and Dubya share.
In 2008, he’s still short. Now, he’s old, too. That pisses him off as well. He grits his teeth and goes through the self-deprecating “oldster” humor but imagine how much the reality of his life irks him. In his mind, he’s still the dashing (crashing) fly-boy. In real life? He’s a 72-year-old leaning precariously for his last grasp at the brass ring.
As some people grow older, they maintain their relevance. Ted Kennedy is a good example. He has a fire in his belly that belies his age and his ailments. He has had the same goal for decades: to help ordinary citizens.
McCain, on the other hand, has never been particularly relevant. He has had the same goal for decades: to help John McCain. While he waves his years as a POW like a flag, he has pretty much let veterans fend for themselves. Disabled American Veterans give him a 20% rating for his stance on veterans’ issues. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America give him a D rating. (Obama has a B +.)
Perhaps his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was a way to appear relevant, to show that he’s “with it.” She’s young, vivacious and winks a lot. Even his youthful touchstone, however, has focused reality’s spotlight on McCain. “What happens if he DIES and she becomes President?” “Suppose – God forbid, God-forbid, God-forbid - SOMETHING HAPPENS to McCain and she’s the next in line?”
It’s no wonder, then, that McCain’s bitterness, in general, has extended to Barack Obama, a younger, more charismatic and more thoughtful candidate – everything that McCain is not and never will be. It’s no wonder that McCain has resorted to the type of smear tactics he decried back in 2000, when they were aimed his way.
His campaign has been playing the fear/race card from the get-go and none too subtly. Obama is “different.” He’s “off the streets.” He may be a Muslim. He cavorts with terrorists. He follows anti-American ministers. He doesn’t love this country.
This racially-charged rhetoric has lit a dangerous fuse in a segment of the American population; a population that is already afraid of nearly everything. The Bush/Rove machine exploited fear as part of a political agenda. They succeeded. The American people, however, weren’t aware of the political plan. All they felt was the fear.
And, now, the McCain team is prodding that fear with a sharp stick. They don’t know enough to back off. If you wake this sleepy monster up, it’s not going away quickly. A cursory review of cheezoid horror movies would clue them into that fact.
At a Palin rally, today, someone responded to the word “Obama” with the cry of “kill him!” This comes on the heels of such audience participation gems as “off with his head,” “traitor” and “terrorist” and signs reading: “Obama bin Lyin’.”
McCain advisor Mark Salter dismissed any connection between the campaign and being “responsible for the occasional nut who shows up and yells something about Barack Obama.”
In Virginia, GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick advised McCain volunteers to stress the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden, saying: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon. That is scary.”
According to “Time Magazine,” this cheerleading evoked shouted replies from the gathered volunteers of “And he won’t salute the flag,” and “We don’t even know where Obama was really born.”
When McCain was told about this, he replied: “”I have to look at the context of his remarks. I have always repudiated any comments that have been made that were inappropriate about Senator Obama. The fact is that William Ayers was a terrorist and bomber and unrepentant. I don’t care about that. But Senator Obama ought be candid and truthful about his relationship with Mr. Ayers (formerly of the Weather Underground and now a professor) in whose living room Senator Obama launched his campaign and Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood.”
Nice repudiation, eh?
Last week, at a town hall mob, McCain supporter 75-year-old Gayle Quinnel said to McCain “Obama is an Arab.” He took the microphone from her and said that Obama was not an Arab; he was a family man (which, in its own way, is a back-handed racist remark).
Afterwards, Quinnel, in an interview, stuck to her guns. “He’s (Obama) still got Muslim in him. So that’s still part of him. I got all the stuff from the library and I could send you all kinds of stuff on him.”
Quinnel is a McCain volunteer who spends her free time copying and mailing letters to people with “all kinds of bad things about him.”
At a Palin event in Pennsylvania, one older supporter brought a stuffed monkey with an Obama sticker affixed to its head to the rally. “This is little Hussein,” he smiled while on line to enter the building. “Little Hussein wanted to see truth and good Americans.”
When Obama supporters across the street yelled “racist,” the man held up the monkey and laughed. Later, when he noticed TV cameras were on him during the Palin speech, he removed the sticker from the doll, crumpled it and handed the monkey to a young boy nearby.
Since the McCain/Palin duo has started with “the other” rhetoric, overt racism has bloomed on chat spots, including those sponsored by AOL and Yahoo!
One message, since removed from the Yahoo Message Boards, was entitled: “Planet of the Apes IMPORTANT.”
Said the commentator in all his loquacious glory: “Doesn’t Obama and Michell remind you of the simeans in Planet of the Apes. People are ‘impressed’ with Obama because he is an above average, articulate black guy. I mean the main reason people worldwide have come to see him is much like when we see a trained chimp. It is asonishing to think we can take gorillas and make them speak…with articulation!!!!!! Obama is a trained monkey (unevolved but nonetheless trained). That said, his wife looks to be the missing link!!! She is just a classic, gorilla lipped, blue gum Negro. Yikes!!!!!”
The writer signed his screed: “joeshitstack.”
This past weekend, civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis commented that McCain and company were “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” in a way reminiscent of George Wallace. The McCain crew immediately demanded an apology…from Obama. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sniffed that: “The idea that you’re going to compare John McCain to the kinds of hate spread in the ’60s by somebody like George Wallace is outrageous. Where was John McCain when George Wallace was spreading his hate and segregationist policies at that time? He was in a Vietnam prison camp serving his country with his civil rights also denied.”
So, McCain critics? POW! Right in the kisser.
Conservative zombie Jonah Goldberg also denies McCain is playing the race card writing “The most laughable evidence that McCain is sowing hatred stems from the shouts of ‘terrorist!’ and ‘kill him!’ from a few hothead buffoons at McCain rallies. Of course, rather than foment this sort of thing, McCain went out of his way to chastise his own supporters personally and publicly.” (NOTE: After just about every respectable commentator on both sides of the political coin cried “foul.”)
Goldberg figures that, if anything, Obama has gotten off easy. “If Obama were a white Democratic nominee named Barry O’Malley, the GOP would be going after him twice as hard.”
Although, probably without the monkeys.
In spite of the fact that McCain and Palin’s not-so-coded rhetoric is appealing to the folks who found “Mandingo” a truly funny movie, they warn that they’ll continue.
McCain is threatening to bring up the dreaded name “Bill Ayers” in the next debate. For the record, folks, the Weathermen, later the Weather Underground, was an anti-war group who rioted a lot and planted bombs in public places after calling in warnings. Ayers was a member, not a leader. In 1970, a pipe bomb went off in San Francisco’s Park Station, killing a police officer. The Weathermen, along with the Black Panther Party, were investigated. No one claimed responsibility. The case was never solved.
In fact, the only fatalities connected to the Weathermen were three of their own members, who died in a New York safe house when a bomb detonated prematurely.
When Bill Ayers turned himself in on December 3, 1980 in New York, all charges against him were dropped.
In other words, bin Laden he ain’t.
But McCain will continue to swing at the shadows, staving off the specter of not only his younger opponent but of his own mortality.
Growing old is not optional and it’s not easy. When my late father was in his mid-seventies, he wouldn’t go certain places because the “joints were filled with those damned senior citizens.” He didn’t want to think he was one. In my Dad’s mind, he was still the virile, curly-haired guy who almost bowled a perfect game and was a star softball player. Getting older pisses a lot of people off.
Watching McCain in action reminds me a bit of my father in his later years. He longed for the past. He didn’t feel totally comfortable in the present. He focused on what might have been. He watched Fox News and Howard Stern because they made him angry…and anger kept him going for many years.
Seeing McCain avoid looking at Obama, or referring to him as “that one,” or pursuing various fictions as fact is more than just mere politics. It’s fear. Fear of change. Fear that you’ll be left behind. Fear that that brass ring will always be too far away to grasp. Fear of the inevitable.
The title of this screed is cribbed from an old Bertolucci film.
Watching McCain flail away, day after day, saying nothing repeatedly as if the repetition made the nothingness relevant, I’m reminded of another title – that of a Broadway show. “Your Arms Too Short To Box With God.”
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