As one who watched Obama and McCain in that Evangelical quiz show, I was disappointed in Obama for his inexcusable innocence, and disgusted by McCain for his signature dishonesty. Personally, I couldn’t care less about Barak Obama or John McCain and their religious beliefs but I do care about the future of my family, my sons and their children, and there is no doubt in my mind that if Obama loses this election – as he well may - John McCain will usher in four more years of economic and social ruin, and a time of endless war threatening the lives of those I love. There is a hope that Barak Obama might make a difference – not because he knows all the answers but because he can articulate the right questions – and that’s a start for an America that is flailing about in a sinking economy and fighting wars that are morally and financially bankrupting the country. So that quiz show was a lost opportunity for Obama and a definite gain for McCain who was playing to his audience by giving them the answers they wanted to hear, always smart in politics but dumb in governance.
I wish I could keep from looking back on that Reverend Rick interview with Obama and not think it was a critical moment in this election, one that was harmful to my candidate. Why was establishing his Christian bone fides so important to Obama that he willingly took that pro-life bullet? That question about where life begins was inevitable and it could not be satisfied by an unworthy cliché like “it’s far above my pay-grade.” Obama knows that if abortion is again made illegal in this country the rate of abortions will not decrease, only the deaths of pregnant women and young girls will increase in back-alley procedures. Obama’s response should have kept the focus on the lives of the already born, the infants and children who are starving in Africa, and the many children who have it pretty bad here at home in these difficult times. Why is it that was there was no mention by Obama of the murder of the innocent children in Iraq by George W’s bombs, and why did he not bring home to his audience John McCain’s early support of W’s war and every other war from the Trojan War onwards?
The way McCain congratulates himself ceaselessly for the surge you would think he was Moses parting the Red Sea, although he tried to tie Obama to the Mosaic image in his mocking ad. Because McCain cannot see through an event to its moral center his critique of the war has been of its execution, never of its fundamental rightness or wrongness. And even there he seems to miss the point. If the surge has so pacified the Iraqi insurgency then why are our troops still needed there? One might have easily forgotten in that religious arena that the Jesus Christ to whom McCain pledged his allegiance is called the Prince of Peace. I was deeply disappointed in Obama who allowed himself to be ensnared by a genial looking, smooth talking, best selling, glad-handing host whose agenda is to defeat men like Obama who believe in a woman’s right to choose although he might genuinely share in Obama’s desire to comfort and feed the poor.
And what are we to make of the usually stumbling McCain’s newly professional performance? Even if he was given the questions in that leaky cone of silence he spoke his lines effectively, except for those times when he appeared to be the prisoner of his own certainties, blustering, and smiling in self-appreciation, an actor who is enjoying his own performance a bit too much. Like George W. he tells us he wants to fight the evildoers and defeat them, as if that was an original idea he had just patented. Oh, how many wars are won on the campaign trail with stern looks and snappy answers. I could hear the old song “Praise the Lord and pass the Ammunition” whistling through his dentures. You would never know that this was a man who won’t even fight the corrupt lobbyists who support his candidacy because they know and he knows that under a President John McCain influence peddling will be business as usual, despite his disclaimer.
And that brings me to the photo-shopping of McCain. According to the New York Times, the big new fad in computerized photography is to have an old boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife photo-shopped out of the picture so one can enjoy the memory of a vacation, or even a wedding without having to deal with the image of the ex. You can also place some dead relative or new love in a setting with yourself, even if he or she had not originally been there. Well, the Republicans have photo-shopped John McCain’s past so that all we see in the picture is a noble POW – a story so embedded in his mythology that nobody will ever be able to get to the full truth. It is evident that the man suffered greatly and nobody should denigrate that suffering but will somebody please tell me how being a POW for five years gives him the qualifications for the Presidency? This man is not Nelson Mandela, someone who managed to keep his humanity intact through inhuman imprisonment for twenty years and became an example of forgiveness and reconciliation for the world. Since McCain flip-flopped on torture it is clear that he learned little from that terrible POW experience, other than how to exploit it for political gain. There is absolutely no logic to that experience as a qualification for the highest office. If so any person with a grave illness should run the hospitals and provide us with a new health insurance plan.
What lies ahead in this campaign? I have a few predictions thanks to photo-shopping. Soon those photos of McCain bear hugging W might be changed to pictures of McCain bear hugging Abe Lincoln. He has already started to hug poor Teddy Roosevelt who may be squirming in his grave at McCain’s environmental policy which is reduced to Drill! Drill! Drill! And to hell with the land, the sea and the creatures who live on it. Such a policy would never win Teddy’s approval, but the great man is not here to protest having his name or his image taken in vain. Don’t be surprised if we see the all purpose Ronald Reagan rise from the dead to give a speech supporting McCain. According to those who know about these things this is well within the capability of a skillful photo-shop provider.
McCain would not have been able to change the facts of his life unassisted. His involvement in the Keating Five scandal – an early sign of his easy corruption - has been photo-shopped out of his political history by a supine mainstream press. It is remarkable how his negatives have been promoted as positives. His bottom of the class standing in college is used to show that he no elitist, perhaps an inability to learn is now a basic qualification for the Presidency since W, elevating McCain over a sometimes brilliant and thoughtful Obama. And McCain’s godliness may best be seen in his luxurious homes, for like the Lord, McCain has many mansions.
About the only serious qualification for the Presidency that McCain has is his serial adultery, which puts him up there with such greats as FDR and JFK; and if that is so then we must look again at poor John Edwards for national leadership. True, McCain gave a nod to his bad behavior in his first marriage on that Evangelical quiz show. Note how abandoning the sick first wife has been photo-shopped by McCain to appear as an example of his human frailty rather than his lack of loyalty, his cruelty and his opportunism. And what of Cindy the blonde billionairess for whom he fell from grace into a bed of beer soaked dollars? Why do I think of a fragile and emotionally battered woman when I see her smiling her sad frozen smile beside him? Why is marrying a rich woman who can bankroll one’s ambitions the only successful economic policy that McCain understands? And why do I believe that under a President McCain – a man with a notoriously short fuse - we will be at war with both Iran and Russia because bombs are easier to drop than using difficult diplomacy? And why will so many children yet to be born, and those now alive, die as a result of his bellicose braggadocio? McCain claims that Obama would rather win an election than a war, an effort to smear his opponent’s patriotism in the best Rove manner. Would it be wrong for Obama to counter that McCain would rather fight a war than win the peace? But that would be too Rovian of me to write here – so forget all that – consider my rude questions and observations redacted. Or better yet, photo-shopped.