Tuesday, August 5, 2008



(August 5, Bloat, IA) Perhaps Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead said it best decades ago in their classic song “Truckin’”, in the line, “...what a long strange trip it’s been.” John McCain today is simply not the John McCain the nation came to respect, admire and trust. Certainly, none of us retain all the characteristics, traits and principals we held in our younger days but few men have made such a public, pathetic departure from “then” till “now”.

Those among us old enough to remember the Viet Nam war and the black and white Huntley Brinkley Report starting each nightly newscast with casualty and KIA counts, also recall the images of men held as POW’s emerging from military aircraft on American soil. Their wives and children dashed wildly towards each of them as they proudly exited the plane, saluted smartly, shook hands with the top brass present and stepped onto the tarmac. John McCain was among them. Shot down, injured, tortured, held in solitary confinement and further tortured, existed in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” for years. As a person, as a man, one must contemplate the enormity of his courage, faith and grit. Could I have done it, one might ask. Not many could or can. He did and served out his military career in the Navy moving into politics after he retired honorably.

For nearly a quarter century he has served in the united States Senate; his legislative record is not overly remarkable however, he was always known for his determination and commitment to that which he believed. He earned his “Maverick” label by not towing the GOP line and, in 2000, might have been elected president had he not confronted the vile, vicious Bush / Rove political destruction machine. Now he’s back at it again. He is not the McCain of 2000. Actually, according to some of his closest friends in the Senate, he is a stranger. Seemingly, with each passing day he is getting stranger still.

What drives a man like this? It is most likely a complex weave of ambition, ego, good intentions, a sense of destiny and a myriad of other personality, neural variables some of which he himself might not be able to articulate. Passion and fire do not diminish easily nor quietly particularly in a man such as John McCain. It is always a sad sight to witness a warrior who remains in the arena past the time they should have exited while at the apex of their career. Reputation intact, they walk away from the fights and skirmishes and become iconic, respected elder statesmen in their field of endeavor. Muhammad Ali did not need to fight the young Leon Spinx. He had a long and legendary legacy firmly implanted not just in boxing but in American history. Ronald Reagan did not need to serve out his second term while in the grasp of Alzhiemic deterioration. John McCain does not have to engage in this battle. But, for whatever reasons, circumstances or motives, he has.

Sadly, as he claws his way through his last real battle, his final campaign he has diminished himself and forever added damaging paragraphs to his obituary. Surely, he is a victim of his staff, handlers and other political flacks who have invested in what they are banking on as a winner. Despite taking poor advice or perhaps actually believing his cause to be so true, that destiny has propelled him to this point, he is accountable for how his campaign functions. Not many would ever have imagined that he would be associated with “the low road”. But he has. He actually seems more than willing to navigate on that low road for the next 89 days in the hope, or, maybe, belief, he will prevail.

Maybe he feels a sense of desperation, an acute ache that tells him that his goal may be beyond his reach. Desperation, as an emotion and motivation is a dangerous state. He may have miscalculated, his internal compass may be off. He probably did not expect to face the adversary he does. The contrasts between McCain and senator Obama could not be any starker, obvious and glaring. Clearly his challenge has been monumental: how to wage a presidential campaign against the first Black presumptive nominee in the general election. Do you kick the door in or walk tepidly on politically correct eggshells? Should the McCain biography trump Obamamania? A political campaining quandary like no other before it. Obviously, “damned the torpedoes!” is his adopted strategy necessitating the use of tactics he would have mocked and shunned years ago. That is the heart of the warrior who stays too long, who misjudges the times, tempo and temperament of a voting population being crunched from every direction and extraordinarily tired, disgusted and sickened by what the current lunatic in the White House has perpetrated the last seven plus years. McCain’s lifetime of hard earned eggs have been precariously placed in a very fragile basket.

The fact that a vapid pseudo-”somebody” can actually launch TV commercials against “the white haired dude” is proof positive just how far McCain has allowed his campaign to stray. Paris Hilton is one of the many media created “celebrities” that our culture adores while the issues that should be at the forefront of every American’s minds are relegated to the back burner. Apathy is a malignant force in a democratic republic such as the United States. The fact that more Americans know who Paris Hilton is than who is our Secretary of State does not bode well for us as a Nation. MOre Americans “vote” for American Idol morons than for President.

Meanwhile, back in the real, present reality, we are waging war on at least two fronts, our economy is teetering on a full blown depression, unemployment is at a six year high, gasoline at an all time high, groceries have increased by 400% since George W. Bush took office and our society appears to be more anxious to see photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s twins than give a moments thought as to who will be our next President. More Americans live without health insurance than voted for Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama combined in the Democratic primaries. The Bush / Cheney Iraq war has lasted longer than World War II, a war waged globally against a powerful Axis of nations-states while we remain in a stalemate with primitive, ragtag, zealots once referred to as “dead enders’ by Donald Rumsfeld. He’s gone but they are still at it. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with us? How have we collectively permitted our government to become so useless, inept and criminally negligent? The Senate, the House of Representatives, the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOD and many others did not even see the attacks of September 11, 2001 coming? George W. Bush was presented with a National Intelligence Briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in United States” four weeks prior to the attacks and he invades Iraq? Wow. How far adrift we have gone.

If the issues and challenges we face as a nation were not so profound - epic - this would all be comedic. A trust fund whore running TV commercials against a Presidential candidate? A Presidential candidate that does not know what countries exist and where on the globe they are located versus an opponent who is a freshman Senator? Truth is stranger than fiction. Reality is harder to handle than “infotainment”.

God bless America...please.

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