October 16, 2008

It's no debate: McCain is still McCain

Despite all the effort to remake John McCain, he's still the same man he's always been. Watching last night's debate with Barack Obama, I was reminded of my comments following a January 2008 debate among Republican candidates. The major issues have shifted, but McCain is still McCain.

Here's my original review of the January debate, requiring only slight updates for last night's occasion:

Watching John McCain in last night's Republican presidential debate, I saw a man who appears to have entered the early stages of dementia. Regardless of the question posed, Sen. McCain's rambling and frequently incoherent responses, his eye rolls and anger tics, demonstrated an inability to focus on any matter beyond his self-aggrandizing pretensions of being smarter, wiser, and more patriotic than his opponents a professor of Constitutional law.

One side of McCain's brain seems stuck in the 1960's and some timeworn dream of personal glory, the other in 2000 and the wrongs inflicted on him by George W. Bush. He adds little to the national discussion on America’s future other than revelations of his own internal dialogue, which appears to mix past honor with present confusion, leaving little room for future solutions.

To Captain McCain John the Plumber, the world is, and always will be, a battlefield toilet. He will "never surrender, they will" - and his definition of "they" is broad enough to land a fleet of fighter jets airborne bathtubs. In his mind, only he and Joe the Plumboy of all the presidential candidates, knows how to lead people into battle the political cesspool, straining with all his might to convince the Republican Party undecided voters that a real warrior cognoscenti of political effluent deserves to become the country's commander flushmeister in chief.

Despite his claims of brilliance on matters of foreign policy and national security - claims based on the personal experiences of his admirable military career, his imprisonment in Viet Nam, and his longevity in Washington - McCain’s belligerency, lack of discipline, and combustible rage would lead to unforeseen, unnecessary and counterproductive wars based on the same faulty logic that drove the country into Iraq and keeps us there. Two generations ago, the same worldview to which he still clings led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths in Viet Nam - even after the end result was predictable. Had his discredited "I know how to win" philosophy prevailed indefinitely - say, "for 100 years" - he probably would have died in a Viet Cong prison.

Experience may count, but experience grounded in a half century of mistakes and irrational thinking does not make a person ready to lead a free people: it makes for a life of mistakes and irrational thinking.

Last night McCain sat within arm's reach of Mitt Romney across the table from Barack Obama and lied through his teeth about comments never made by Romney Obama's character and campaign platform - all the while claiming to be a man of principle and "straight talk." This man is Richard Nixon without the peace sign, Dick Cheney without the wit, Zell Miller without the spitballs -- Herbert Hoover without the compassion. My friends, John McCain is a man who should never be allowed to control the world's greatest military arsenal, his ancient heart thumping to the drumbeat of war, one hand fondling the nuclear trigger and the other caressing Joe the Lieberman's wish list of future conquests.

The fact that so many Republican voters are willing to gamble the nation’s future on this unstable cold warrior and his "nothing to lose" running mate is a frightening development in American politics.

Others A diminishing number of voters watched the debate and saw a man to lead the free world: I saw a man who belongs in "Republican dreamland", fading into Captain Peacock -- an old know-it-all strutting around the hot tub in his skivvies, living on cocktail olives and Viagara, reciting past glories to anyone within earshot - and always winning the battles still waging in his own skull.

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