Frontier Former Editor

August 21, 2008

I’ve finally worked up my Election ’08 spleen . . .

and, for reference, I checked msnbc.com and cnn.com before I started just to make sure that Barack Obama still is about to announce his vice-presidential candidate any time now and hasn’t. Reminds me of that old joke, “How do you keep a moron in suspense? . . .”

Now, for all his faults, John McCain is a hero. He refused repatriation from North Vietnamese captivity as a matter of principle and honor, and I have to respect that. He’s far more of a hero than his fellow Republican and now-convict Duke Cunningham, who became the first American ace over Vietnam and went on to demonstrate his underlying lack of character while McCain got into a scrape over the savings and loan industry in the 1980s and came clean about his involvement.

Makes McCain sound like a saint, eh?

Well, while McCain certainly has a reputation as a straight talker, he also has a reputation for inconsistency, for impulsiveness, and for a general lack of depth when it comes to the more intellectual aspects of engaging in representative government. Case in point: McCain’s fellow prisoner of war Jeremiah Denton, who also became a member of Congress and who generally showed consistency and thoughtfulness during that career regardless of one’s opinion of his party choice.

As for Barack Obama, I don’t have any particular reason to doubt the general sincerity of his candidacy. I also don’t pay a great deal of attention to the McCain camp’s attempts to depict him as a rank amateur, because just about every President was an amateur at being President before they were first elected and/or sworn. Theodore Roosevelt was an amateur – albeit a reasonably gifted amateur – before he got bumped up a pay grade in 1901. Bush fils was definitely an amateur – a strong reason for the Republican National Committee to step back and think about its anti-Obama cant this late summer and fall, given that Obama hasn’t run any oil company into the ground and that he actually completed higher education with some degree of consciousness and good performance. As for Obama’s lack of military service, again refer to Bush fils and his performance as Commander-in-Chief.

Given that short-form assessment of the probable ballot choices in November, I’ve still not been even a smidge impressed with either man because they simply have lived down to the expectations upon American political candidates of the last few decades.  There’s not been many Washingtons, Lincolns or Roosevelts out there lately (and I seriously doubt that a Lincoln or Washington could get elected these days given the level of trust that government has engendered  amongst the citizenry), and McCain and Obama definitely don’t fall in their weight class. Even Reagan – perish the thought – had a concept of how he wanted to make a difference. Even more than in past years, this campaign basically has been a competition between two men presenting vague, disjointed, shifting and piecemeal platforms with damn little theme except the catch phrases of change vs. consistency. And when either candidate does happen to change a position for a good reason, then the imagery of shower shoes is dragged out for a noisy intermission.

I wish Sam Nunn would run. Probably the true architect of a resurgent moderate Democratic party that made Bill Clinton’s presidential pension possible, Nunn was no slouch on domestic and foreign policy issues and would have been a giant among candidates from 1992 to today.  And if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle . . .

Since Nunn’s not going to make the ticket, then let’s at least consider the issue of vice-presidential candidates. I haven;t heard of any apparently useful specimens listed among McCain’s supposed short list, but I can actually vouch personally for one of Obama’s list: Tim Kaine. I’ve known him since he ran for lieutenant governor, and have a had a few chats with him during that race and some contact since. I editorially endorsed him for his run for governor, and he’s done a pretty good job along with his predecessor Mark Warner in working through the fiscal wreckage left in Virginia by George Allen and James Gilmore. He may not be experienced in things like foreign and defense policies but, at the risk of sounding sappy and mushy, Kaine is a decent human being and has shown consistency, principle and ethics in his career.

As for Joseph Biden? What in hell was Obama thinking? Yeah, Biden has experience in foreign relations, and so did Ribbentrop, Molotov, Count Ciano and others. Biden also has shown poor judgement and even poorer skill in citing his sources.

It’s 1:07 pm Eastern time and I still haven’t checked back to see if there is a Democratic vice presidential nomination hopeful. Now I’m depressed and I’m going to stop here.

And I’m writing in Sam Nunn for President and Tim Kaine for Vice President on the first Tuesday in November.

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1 Comment »

  1. My problem with McCain is that I think his soul was burned away in the crucible of the 2000 nominations. He saw what the Bushies were willing to do, and what he’d have to do to compete as a Republican. Sadly, he decided to get down and wrassle with the pigs.

    And the guy’s old. Sorry, but at some point, that IS relevant.

    Now he’s an encumbrance, a link to the Bush regime, and as he reverses himself on issue after issue, he begins to look more and more desperate to be elected.

    His reversal on the torture bill stands out as his worst moment, the one he cannot walk away from.

    I agree that a Lincoln or Washington couldn’t get elected dogcatcher nowadays. But that’s not the candidates’ fault unless we’re prepared to place an unfair share of blame on these particular two for the culture of cynicism, disengagement, and bald-faced corruption that is the operatiing system of Washington.

    McCain would get more of my personal admiration for at least deliberately drawing a clear, clean line between himself and the Bush administration.

    Obama may be vague for a couple of reasons: One big one might be not wanting to commit to steering in a particular direction before he actually has the wheel in his hands. After all, he can talk policy all he likes, but the Bushies have set the next three presidents up for a hard ride.

    However, astoundingly, it seems the pollsters are placing the two candidates neck and neck. Me, I can’t believe Americans even think they have a choice.

    You either get vaguely hopeful, or Bush-Redux with vagueness.

    Comment by Metro — August 21, 2008 @ 4:08 pm


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