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The Media Myth of 'Automatic Qualification' of McCain for President

By       Message Benjamin Anosike, Ph.D.       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   21 comments

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A recent incisive article in the August 7, 2008 issue of Marketplace, titled "Why McCain would be a mediocre president," authored by no less a public media observer and analyst than Rex Nutting, the Washington Bureau Chief of Marketplace, the Wall Street Journal Digital Service, points up a fundamental potential national political disaster waiting to happen in the 2008 American Presidential elections. That ominous potential national political disaster, which increasingly threaten to become American reality with each passing day as we inch ever closer and closer to the elections in November, is basically the general notion or assumption - in deed, the mythology - that centers around the purported automatic fitness and "qualification" of just ONE of the two principal candidates vying for the job of the President, namely, Sen. John McCain, to assume the office of the President and to do a great and competent job it, if he's elected.

It is a current political mythology which has, so far, been propounded and propagated, wittingly or unwittingly, by the mainstream American press and media and the pundits, but so far unchallenged, unverified, and unproven. The above-mentioned article by Rex Nutting could not be more right in its analyses and observations, or more timely. In fact, it may yet go down in the current American political history as the ultimate public service and saving grace that redeemed America in this epochal 2008 election. For so long, the American mainstream press and media have almost totally been sold a titillating but yet false bill of goods on the supposed "automatic qualification" of Sen. John McCain to be President of the United States, and to be the Commander-in-Chief "from day one." The American media, nearly totally blindly bought over, lock, stock and barrel, on this false mantra, has in turn done a nearly perfect job (until now) of selling this glorified mythology to the American people and electorate. We are told, over and over again by many in the Media, that McCain is already thoroughly "vetted," that he "has passed the Commander-in-Chief test," and, lately, we're told that the 2008 Presidential election is merely "a referendum on Barack Obama" in that, it is claimed, John McCain has been "thoroughly vetted" and that Obama is not. On the nightly TV "News Hour" program on Channel 13, David Brook (he’s also a N.Y. Times columnist) and Mark Shield, the weekly commentators on the program who are otherwise among the most commonsensical and learned political analysts in such matters, have been among such better known national opinion-makers who have propagated this apparent mythology concerning the McCain-Obama candidacies.

So far, this highly fundamental media-inspired assumption - this mythology - has gone largely unquestioned and been automatically accepted by the unsuspecting American general public as essentially the "Gospel truth" - a matter that is already fully verified and confirmed and not subject to any error, contradiction, or even questioning. It is as if (in the opinion, if not the dictum) of the American mainstream news media and political pundits, it is already an absolute, assured and incontrovertible "given" that the Republican candidate John McCain has the guaranteed "right stuff" to make a good, even an excellent and successful, President of the United States, if elected into that office. But is he, really? Is this notion of John McCain being a battle tested, tried and sure-fire presidential material, who already possesses all the essential leadership and personal attributes and experiences to make a good President, such that it is almost a guarantee that he would make a good and successful President, really accurate or true?

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Unfortunately, upon even a more than cursory analysis of the relevant facts, it becomes immediately clear that the answer to that critical question is a resounding NO; that, in short, that proposition is merely a MYTH.“[The general] assumption seems to be that McCain's years of experience in the military and in Congress of course give him the background and tools he'd need in the White House," says Rex Nutting in his recent MarketWatch path-breaking journalist piece. "But that begs another question: Is McCain fit to lead America?" Nutting aptly notes that "That question hasn't been asked," quite apparently by his colleagues of the Press and Media, "nor has it been answered." In deed, in point of fact, according to many credible experts, many cogent reasons abound for which it is simply a mere unproven and tested mythology to assume that the particular background that is attributable to John McCain in the military and in Congress, actually assures, automatically or otherwise, that McCain is immediately qualified to be a good President fit to lead America, or that he will necessarily be up to the job if placed in the White House. The following are some of the main reasons.

1. Lack of any personal, real life accomplishments

Poor Records in the Naval Academy and the Military. Just like the present President Bush who rode his own father's legacy to get to the White House, John McCain, it is said "got his first career breaks from the connections and money of his family, not from hard work." Starting from his days in the Annapolis Naval Academy, John McCain did so poorly there that as the cadet who placed almost dead last in his class, he might ordinarily have promptly been flunked out and not be commissioned. Nevertheless, because of his connections because he was the son and grandson of Navy admirals, McCain was still retained and was commissioned as a Navy pilot. Next, while his military service as an American Navy pilot is often touted as the stuff of his legend and his great service to America (and there is no denying or diminution of that) McCain's personal performance in the Navy was not particularly a stellar or distinguished one. In deed, it was, again, a poor performance: he crashed three planes in the course of his service, and then failed to evade a North Vietnamese missile that destroyed his plane. In deed, according to several expert analyses on this, one primary reason why McCain choose, on his own volition, to leave the military after his release from his 5 years in the Vietnam prison camp (and to pursue an earlier unlikely political career, in stead), was because McCain knew that his "weak military record meant he'd never make admiral, so he turned his sights to a career in politics," in the words of Rex Nutting.

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2. McCain Owes His Elevation in Politics to Connections, not personal qualifications

What the credible record shows, is that to the extent that McCain rose in politics and made any attainments over the years, it has been primarily owing to McCain's connections. Before McCain married his present wife, Cindy, in 1980 (he had divorced his previous wife only to marry Cindy within just one month), McCain was then earning some $50,000 or so per year as a naval officer. However, immediately after his marriage to Cindy, McCain moved with his new bride to Arizona, the location of his new father-in-law's multi-billion dollar beer distribution empire. And there, his new multi-millionaire father-in-law, Jim Hensley, gave him a job and introduced him to local businessmen and political powerbrokers, and it was those people that smoothed McCain's political path to Washington, in the House of Representatives and Senate. It was through the help of his new wife's wealth, his new father-in-law's business connections, and some powerful friends that he had made as a lobbyist for the Navy, that McCain became elected with such unusual rapidity to Congress in 1982 (to a district that he never resided in until the day the seat opened up), and then only five years later, succeeded Barry Goldwater as a U.S. senator.

3. McCain hasn't actually accomplished much in the Senate.

"Even his own campaign doesn't trumpet his successes [in Congress]," wrote Rex Nutting of MarketWatch, "probably because the few victories he's had still rankle Republicans." Nutting notes, for example, that McCain's McCain-Feingold campaign finance law has not resulted in significantly reducing the role of money in politics; that he failed to get a big tobacco bill through the Senate; that he's failed to change the way Congress spends money in that his bill to give the president a line-item veto was declared unconstitutional, and that the system of pork and earmarks that McCain often rails about as his life mission to end, continues today unabated. That he failed to reform the immigration system, and that even in a period from 2005 to mid-2007 when no primary elections were being conducted to justify a candidate's absence from the Senate, no senator missed more roll-call votes other than McCain, except Tim Johnson, who was absent for known health reasons.

4. What the credible record will show on McCain, upon actual examination, are the following: that McCain is Shallow as a leadership material.

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Even he himself expressly stated that he doesn't understand or know much about the economic issues, and while he says he wants to reduce global warming, he then goes on to propose ideas that would stimulate -- not reduce -- demand for fossil fuels, such a offshore drilling; and that to date, McCain is yet to articulate any broad leadership goals or vision for America as to why he wants to be president. ("So far, his campaign theme has mostly been 'McCain: He's None of the Above'," says Rex Nutting, and "In the general election, he's emphasized that he's not that treasonous dreamer."); and that McCain has not demonstrated any practical political skill of leadership. For example, though often touted as a political "maverick," observers note that, upon examination, it will be found that actually McCain has never been able to bring more than a handful of his fellow Republicans in Congress along with him to support issues such as campaign finance reform or immigration, and that except for a few exceptions (John Kerry and Joe Lieberman), the Democrats have never warmed to him on major issues. Yet, the simple fact is that were McCain to be elected President, in order to achieve anything as president, he would have to win over two hostile parties: the Democrats and the Republicans.

5. Lack of Basic American Moral Values

John McCain and his present political campaign for the Presidency of the United States have been artfully built essentially around the image of a selfless, principled war hero whose quest for the office represents not so much a battle for the presidency, but, in the words of one recent analyst, Sharon Churcher, "a crusade to rescue the nation’s tarnished reputation." On the moral plane, John McCain's claim to legitimacy and being qualified to be President, essentially rests on two pivots - first, on his dogged efforts to illustrate his supposed moral stand and fiber by portraying his five years of harsh confinement as a war prisoner in Vietnam, and secondly, on his efforts to portray himself as something of the consummate American family man passionately committed to the "true American family values." As part of this charade, McCain would frequently bring up his beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, for warm tributes as a beloved wife and mother to whom he is deeply devoted and committed.

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Anosike, author of several dozens of legal and political texts, is a New York based legal expert and independent commentator, and frequent writer on legal and public affairs.

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The Media Myth of 'Automatic Qualification' of McCain for President