Frontier Former Editor

October 12, 2008

Read this and make up your own mind . . .

I would like to state for the record here and now that the reservations I have held regarding Barack Obama have been solely based on his level of experience. Looking at those reservations, I think I fall in the same category of many who expressed concerns over Abraham Lincoln’s suitability of experience before the 1860 Republican presidential nominating convention.

No concern about his race, religion, creed or gender. Just his experience.

Given that, I should state that, in 2000, I voted in my first Republican primary because I thought that George W. Bush was a threat to this country and that John McCain was a counter to that threat. Until McCain began supporting the war in Iraq, I still had hope that he might one day prove a counter to neoconservatism.

So much for that idea.

Secretly and not so secretly, I’ve been hoping for some return to reason and gravitas in how this country conducts its affairs. Admittedly, that return might involve a trip in the wayback machine to George Washington’s election.

I haven’t seen much hope in that return among the ‘mainstream’ national Republican machine. The reasonable ones are in a wilderness between the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee. When Barack Obama attempts to elaborate his positions – many of which seem fairly reasonable given a framework of logic and rationality and acknowledgement of the American social and political landscape – any debate gets lost in a spiral of irrelevant verbal feces generated by McCain staffers and that nitwit Palin.

There’s been no policy debate in this country during the election cycle. There’s been a lot of noise about patriotism, innuendo about name, race, inexperience and modern-day Red scare tactics.

I hadn’t run across this until this morning – mainly because I never thought that ‘Rolling Stone’ still had it in them – but it is worth a read. There’s nothing really new in it, but it does sit down and recount much of what has been out in the public for most of four decades. Before reading it, I’ve questioned McCain’s stability for several years jokingly and in darker corners of my mind. After reading it, I found that I’m not the only one asking some of those questions.

To Barack Obama:

No matter what my vote next month, please know that your race, creed, religion or name don’t enter into my thought process.

Just work on convincing me that you are a reasonable, rational and upright person who will listen to and work with other reasonable, rational and upright people to get us moving away from the center of the domestic and international messes in which we sit.

I have no illusions that you and others can solve it all in one or two terms. It would take decades to do that. Just show me that you’re willing, able and committed to doing it.

 

To John McCain:

I don’t know anymore, but I do know that you are what my father – a retired Navy senior chief petty officer – would call a bullshit artist.

Your vice presidential running mate is also a bullshit artist.

Your campaign staff, if examined by art scholars, would be given their own section in art textbooks as the ‘bullshit art’ movement.

The national Republican Party organization backing your try for the White House obviously knows its taste in art: bullshit. Even compared to many in the national Democratic Party leadership, your national backers have a superb eye for bullshit.

 

One of my blogging acquaintances told me a year or so ago that there’s nothing wrong with America that what’s right with it can’t fix.

I really hope so.

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October 11, 2008

Bobby May

After two years away from covering Southwest Virginia politics, it warms my heart to watch a late season election train wreck.

Except when you know some of the principals in the wreck. Then it’s a combination of laughter, cringing, headshaking, disgust, incomprehension, pity, anger, bemusement, lather, rinse, repeat.

Any of you who read the Los Angeles Times or watch MSNBC may already have digested the story of Bobby May from Hurley, Va..

I know Bobby May. I also know Earl Cole, the newspaper entrepreneur who printed Bobby’s discourse on Barack Obama.

The Los Angeles Times apparently broke the story, so go get a gander at it here.

Bobby is (and quite possibly was, if this little tempest runs its course) an entrepreneur whose stock in trade is political paraphernalia: buttons, signs, banners, stickers, key rings, change purses, pocket knives and just about any other promotional paraphernalia with political slogans or commercial advertising.

Covering politics, I got acquainted with Bobby and, I have to say, he was pretty entertaining and not all that bad a dinner guest. Of course he was a raging Reagan Republican but he came by it honest, unlike folks like Edwin Meese, Donald Regan, Newt Gingrich, Lee Atwater and a whole host of national Republicans in the Reagan, Bush pere’ and Bush fils administrations.

Bobby treated me relatively fairly, even if I was part of that mainstream media. But Bobby decided more than a few years ago that the mainstream media just didn’t get it, like many Republicans decided long before him.

And a few years ago, May got his crack at being mainstream media when Earl Cole started a little newspaper called ‘The Voice’ as his own way of being a gadfly to the political establishment of Buchanan County.

Especially the Democratic establishment.

I still enjoyed Bobby’s cracks at Democrats, if only because I knew Bobby was just being Bobby. But when someone called me over to their computer to show Keith Olberman’s meanest person in the world for Wednesday night, I – to crib a line from Charlie Daniels’ ‘Uneasy Rider’ – damn near died.

There was Bobby May of Hurley, Virginia with an honor typically reserved for Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter or some idiot congressman or Bush Administration figure.

Bobby had written his op-ed de grace. A sample:

The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama
The Voice
by Bobby May, bobbyleemay@yahoo.com

In response to criticism that I favor John McCain for president and only present “one side of the issues,” I am listing for your consideration the platform of Barack Hussein Obama as best as I can figure it out after venting all of the hot air, straining out the honey and removing the smelly substance similar to what the old bull left behind.

I think I’ve did (sic) a pretty good job of boiling his positions down to their very essence for the sake of clarity. . . .

REPARATIONS TO BLACK COMMUNITY:  Opposes before Election Day and supports after Election Day.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology courses taught in all churches–raise taxes to pay for this mandate.  Put Rev. Jeremiah Wright in charge.  Condemnation of homosexuality from the pulpit will become a Class 1 Felony.

HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE:  Raise taxes.  And coddle sexual perverts.  Give tax breaks for NAMBLA membership fees. . . .

DRUG CRISIS:  Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base. . . .

2ND AMENDMENT:  Under Obama will only apply to gang-bangers, illegal aliens, Islamo-Fascist terrorists, and Senator Jim Webb’s aide. . . .

FOREIGN RELATIONS:  Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative and let Bill Clinton handle all other “foreign relations” … as long as Hillary doesn’t find out!  And raise taxes.

THE WHITE HOUSE:  Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.”  Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint to do the job plus spray-paint for graffiti.

THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES:  Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream. . . .

NATIONAL ANTHEM:  Change to the “Black National Anthem” by James Weldon Johnson.  And raise taxes. . . .

U.S. CURRENCY:  Updatephotos to reflect U.S. diversity; include pictures of “great Americans” such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson(Obama’s new Secretary of the Treasury–50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination).  And raise taxes. . . .

U.S. MILITARY:  Confiscate all weapons, substitute water pistols, pea shooters, and bows with suction cup arrows.  Replace U.S. flag on uniforms with peace symbols changing uniform color grom green to pink and abolishing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, replacing it with “A queer in every foxhole and a camouflage sex toy in every backpack” requirement.  Condoms will be issued instead of bullets and brotherly love encouraged.  Barney Frank will be the new Secretary of Defence (renamed Secretary of Peace and Love) and Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Lindsay Lohan and Rick Boucher will be made 5-star generals.  And raise taxes. . . .

Whilst one part of me read it and thought, “Yep, that’s typical Bobby May,” another part of me thought of the four most dangerous words one can hear in the South: “Hey y’all, watch this!”

(Editor’s note, 11-12-08: The site where a facsimile of Bobby’s article resides, it should be noted, failed to include what accompanied it: a counterpoint piece by Ron Coleman supporting Obama’s campaign. Not that it necessarily makes Bobby’s piece any more palatable, but it should be included if only to put its appearance in context of what ‘The Voice’ was trying to present.)

If this had been all there was to the story, Bobby’s little essay might have passed relatively unnoticed. But that wasn’t all. Remember how Bobby was a diehard Republican? Well, Bobby’s beliefs not only complemented his business. They extended into his extracurricular life as the treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party and as the local organizer of Team McCain-Palin activities.

And the special sauce on this political hoagie? The Los Angeles Times happened to send a reporter to Buchanan County to sample the red state-blue state dynamic in Virginia last week – including the availability of a certain publication titled, ‘The Voice.’

And “watch this” the ‘mainstream media’ did. And, to Bobby May’s enduring discomfort, they did ‘get it.’ So did the McCain campaign machine, which officially dropped Bobby May from Team McCain-Palin.

Given the McCain machine’s rational for zapping Bobby May, however, I have to wonder why Palin is still on the ticket.

Does this mean that Southwest Virginia is a bunch of racist, stereotype-spouting idiots? No more so than any other geographic region of the Unites States. I certainly have my misgivings about Barack Obama, but they in no way are reflected in the satirical foray made by Bobby May.

But I have plenty of misgivings about John McCain, and I saw a glimmer of reflection of those in the story of Bobby May. How is what Bobby wrote fundamentally different from the stuff that has been spewed from the McCain campaign since the Labor Day weekend?

Bobby May might have been trying to be Jonathan Swift in his modest view of Obama’s political stances. He has a lot to be modest about now.

October 6, 2008

For that maverick in all of us . . .

October 4, 2008

On voting . . .

I’ll save you some of my normal ranting; Max’s monograph on the topic was so much better and less bitter than I could muster.

I was reading the Virginia official elections and voting site this evening – probably the first time I’d done so since I was in the newspaper biz – and found some interesting tidbits in preparation for my trip to the optical scanner in November.

Our longtime Democratic congressional incumbent is unopposed for the first time since 1982. That’s 13 election cycles and 26 years, and I covered 7 of those elections in some form or another. I can also say that, in all but two of those elections, he was effectively unopposed because of the quality of candidate.

Virginia actually has six slates of presidential/vice presidential candidates. Besides the Republican and Democrat doom and gloom, the slate is damn near a political Baskin Robbins with Green, Independent Green, Libertarian, and whatever the hell Ralph Nader is calling himself this year.

Oh, Nader’s an Independent. How cute.

Maybe I won’t have to write in Eisenhower and Nixon this year after all.

For our city council (and I use the word ‘city’ loosely, since this place has less than 4,000 residents, shares its court and clerk system with the surrounding county, and somehow manages to keep a city charter it bogarted from the Virginia General Assembly in 1954 – a city it ain’t.) I see two people with whom I went to high school and college, respectively. They’re both reasonable folk, so I’ll probably choose them over the asshole scion of the now-dead owner of the local Pepsi bottling franchise and the guy of whom I know little other than the fact that he ran for council once before and left the same impact of a 5.56 mm bullet against titanium plate armor.

Our last asshole former Republican governor Jim Gilmore (as opposed to the prior asshole former Republican governor George Allen – Google ‘macaca’ for more) is running for U.S. Senate against the next to last Democrat former governor who did a pretty good job of cleaning up Gilmore’s immediate toxic political spillage. When two senior Republican legislators and a rather honorable former Republican governor (and father-in-law of the current Democratic governor) appear in ads and campaign appearances to endorse the Democrat, one would think that Gilmore would have gotten the message.

This, of course, merely proves that Gilmore is, in fact, an asshole and a not-very-smart one.

And then there’s the ‘city’ school board race. I used to cover that school board. I think I’ll write i, “Consolidate with the county, finally!”

With all the heartburn from reading the site, all I can say is that I can still cuss, spit, gripe and – in the end – go down and vote about it without the fear of being spied upon, trailed by state security, picked up, interrogated or executed.

Unless, of course, I vote in Florida.

If any of you reading this live in Virginia, you have until close of business Monday, Oct. 6, to go register to vote in this November’s general elections.

Do it.

September 6, 2008

Manifest Destiny, as manifested by Sarah Palin . . .

Apparently, Sarah Palin seems to agree with Jake Blues . . . .

We’re on a mission from God.

I know all you all look down on National Public Radio as the last refuge of a liberal, but sometimes they have a nasty habit of running factual information:

http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=94332540&m=94332496

An excerpt:

“Palin now goes to a nondenominational Bible church when she’s in Wasilla, but her years attending Pentecostal churches, including the one she currently attends in Juneau, have no doubt shaped her faith and, possibly, her view of world events.

“For example, at the same service, Palin talks about the war in Iraq.

” “Pray our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country — that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God,” Palin said. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

“Poloma says some people might hear that and say Palin believes this is a holy war, or that Pentecostals think this is a holy war.”

Now I know who else Palin reminds me of . . .

 

James K. Polk, Manifest Destiny exponent extradordinaire. From Wikipedia:

“As a Democrat committed to geographic expansion (or “Manifest Destiny“), he overrode Whig objections and was responsible for the second-largest expansion of the nation’s territory. Polk secured the Oregon Territory (including Washington, Oregon and Idaho), amounting to about 285,000 square miles (738,000 km²) then purchased 525,000 square miles (1,360,000 km²) through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican–American War.”

The only difference between Polk and Dubya? Polk was arrogant and competent.

Maybe Palin should remember that many a nation has claimed a holy alliance with God, as a central European nation once proudly declared . . .

 

Belief in God doesn’t make me nervous, despite or maybe because of my avowed agnosticism. What makes me nervous is politicians tossing around the concept of God as a symbol of support and justification as certain as the current day’s Gallup/CNN/MSNBC polls

Good night, Sarah, and remember the ark.

September 4, 2008

Room 222 meets the Situation Room?

I tell you know that I knew I’d seen Sarah Palin somewhere before!

Sarah Palin is Karen Valentine’s last gasp at a public comeback!

And if you wondered about PalVal’s real motives . . . .

September 3, 2008

A free drinking game for those bleak days leading to the first Tuesday in November

Get a bottle of your favorite rotgut, play this with the volume wayyyyy up, and yell ‘Bristol Palin’ every time you hear ‘Debbie Gibson’ . . .

I’ve also included a helpful guide to add extra zest to this handy little game (with apologies to Mojo):

Bristol Palin is pregnant with my two 
party love child
It’s a indy baby all covered on Fox now
Stark raving fundy in the family values nation

We were secretly married out in Anchorage
at a little bitty chapel, 
Ted Stevens married us
rootin tootin, ain’t high falutin’

John McCain is a pantywaist, match my butt with his face
He’s teeny tiny two inches of terror, they’re all gonna
scare you
Hairbrained cockamamie knuckleheaded idjit galoot

No truth to the rumor about Levi and Bristol P —
only went to the motel, just to watch a little TV
Hate that kid, he must die

Saxophone solo

J-J-J-J-J-Jenna B, is wrestling in jello
Body slamming Bristol P, they’re covered head
to toe
h*** on, my h*** on

Repeat first verse

I’m stark raving fundy in the family values nation
Stark raving fundy in the family values nation
Stark raving fundy in the family values……….nation…….!!

September 2, 2008

I’m having a Lewis Black moment . . . .

except that I’m not as lovable and funny as Lewis Black is when I’m stunned, dazed and ultimately pissed off.

What have I missed in the Republican Party in that black hole starting with Dubya’s nomination for President in 2000? The post 1970’s Republican Party has, of course, gone through an evolution where it has adopted pro-life principles, except of course, when it comes to lower-class people.

In that case, the Republican Party attempted to undo the damage wrought by a mutated Great Society welfare program by the simple expedient of doing everything possible to dismantle social welfare programs and tell zero-income people to get a job and low-income people to get a better job. Having watched this concept in action in Virginia – as implemented by a Republican legislature led by Virginia’s favorite racial schizophrenic George Allen – I can also add that critics of it constantly received two responses: Stop coddling welfare queens and frauds, and don’t worry because cutting welfare will mean lower taxes and greater distribution of wealth from the upper levels of the private sector.

What those responses always seemed to lack was the answer to another question: just how is the economy going to improve when you start getting thousands of people – after weeding out ‘welfare queens’ and ‘frauds’ who either can’t work or who have been unable to find a job – into gainful employment with a salary adequate to cover medical and child care expenses as well as food, shelter, heat and transportation to and from work, medical care and child care?

I won’t go into how well trickle-down economics worked during and after the Reagan administration, but suffice it to say that even Arthur Laffer admitted that he supported Bill Clinton’s economic policies.

In several cases I saw as a reporter, the resulting ‘workfare’ programs as often as not ended up with local and state governments subsidizing employment and training for participants as the economy shambled toward the conditions it now faces.

But back to the ‘pro-life’ portion of today’s post.

Sarah Palin’s minor daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock (and this is in no way a judgement upon her daughter) and Palin drones on about how her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law are facing a tough choice but with the support and love of their familiy. Meanwhile, the Republican Party goes on with its pro-life call to arms without realizing just how economically frightening it has made this society as a place to survive and raise children. And, of course, there’s still the traditional stigma that modern conservatism (as practiced by modern conservatives like Rush Limbaugh et al) attempts to place on everyone else who has a child out of wedlock or before reaching legal adulthood.

Lest you think that I’m a big-time supporter of Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society,’ I think it merely reinforces the saying about paving practices on the road to hell. But seeing a political party which blathers on about life and economic well-being but declares war on terrorists and then diverts its effort away from where the terrorists are?

Well, the Democratic Party has done damned little to inspire me this year, but the Republican Party in the form of John McCain, Sarah Palin and the Republican National Committee can take all their warm fuzziness about the sanctity of life, defense of liberty and recovering economic trends and blow it out their ass. I’ll say it now. Sarah Palin’s selection as vice presidential candidate was nothing more than a cynical trick similar to that of Iran’s president saying that ‘we only want to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.’ It does nothing more than place the Republican Party in the position of saying, “Why, some of my best friends are women . . .”

To those who would say, ‘Well, FFE, what about the Democrats choosing Geraldine Ferraro as the vice presidential candidate?’ I would say that Ferraro was not much more than a third-rate ward politician herself.

As big an idiot on applied foreign policy as Condoleeza Rice is, she’s far more qualified than Sarah Palin or John McCain. And as bad a taste as she leaves in my political mouth, Hillary Clinton is a better adapted political animal than Sarah Palin might hope to be in the next four years.

Hell, Lucretia Borgia was a better political animal than any of the afore mentioned women.

If the Republican Party wanted a qualified woman in a position of responsibility and power, they surely did it in a half-assed way.

August 30, 2008

McCain taps Palin for Veep slot

 

DAYTON, Ohio – Republican John McCain introduced long-term comedian and travel writer Michael Palin as his vice presidential running mate Friday, a stunning selection of a well-known Liberal newcomer who relishes lampooning the establishment.

“She’s . . . er, he’s exactly who I need. He’s exactly who this country needs to help me fight the same old Washington politics of ‘Me first and country second,’ ” McCain declared as the pair stood together for the first time at a boisterous rally in Ohio just days before the opening of the party’s national convention.

Palin, the first Liberal and English citizen on a presidential ticket, promised: “I’m going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of constitutional monarchy to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all.”

“… Politics isn’t just a game of competing interests and clashing parties,” added the Oxford-educated Palin, 65, who has built his American career in large measure by appearances on early episodes of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and some rather delightful and inightful travelogues on the Public Broadcasting Service.

In the increasingly intensive presidential campaign, McCain made his selection six days after his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, named another comedian, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as his No. 2 on the ticket.

The contrast between the two announcements was remarkable — Obama, 47, picked a 65-year-old running mate with long experience in government and a man whom he said was qualified to be president. The timing of McCain’s selection appeared designed to limit any political gain Obama derives from his own convention, which ended Thursday night with his nominating acceptance speech before an estimated 84,000 in Invesco Field in Colorado.

Public opinion polls show a close race between Obama and McCain, and with scarcely two months remaining until the election, neither contender can allow the other to jump out to a big post-convention lead.

On his 72nd birthday, McCain chose Palin, a man somewhat older than two of the Arizonan’s seven children and a person who until recently was the MP from County Ineyne . He settled on Palin six months after first meeting the governor and following only one phone call, argument and being hit on the head lesson between them last Sunday and a single face-to-face meeting Thursday, according to a timeline provided by his campaign.

The Obama campaign immediately questioned whether she would be prepared to step in and be president if necessary.

“Today, John McCain put the former Member of Parliament and upper-class twit of the year with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” Adrianne Marsh, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a written statement. A statement was put out on Obama’s plane with the candidate merely welcoming her, er, him to the campaign.

President Bush complimented McCain for “an exciting decision.”

Palin is a proven reformer who is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars and champion for accountability in government,” a presidential statement said. “By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Senator McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came so close to being the first major party woman presidential candidate, said in a statement: “We should all be proud of Michael Palin‘s historic nomination, and I congratulate her . . . er, him and Sen. McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, the honorable Mr. Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.”

“It’s an absolutely brilliant choice,” said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. “This will absolutely energize McCain’s campaign and boost Monty Python CD set sales,” he predicted.

Palin’s name had not been on the short list of people heavily reported upon by the news media in recent days, and McCain’s decision was a well-kept secret until just a couple hours before Friday’s rally.

McCain’s campaign said that Palin and a top aide met with senior McCain advisers in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday night. The next morning, the campaign said McCain formally invited Palin to join the ticket on the deck of McCain’s home near Sedona, Ariz., and later Thursday the governor flew to Middletown, Ohio, with staff to await Friday’s event in Dayton.

Describing the process that led to her . . . er, his selection, Palin told reporters he’d received word that he was McCain’s choice on Thursday and had met privately with him that day to discuss it. He spoke briefly as the two running mates surprised shoppers at the Buckeye Corner in Columbus, Ohio, where they purchased Ohio State University sports memorabilia. McCain and Palin started a bus tour across Ohio and to Pittsburgh, where they will hold a campaign rally Saturday. Ohio and Pennsylvania are two states that figure prominently in who wins the election this fall.

Asked why McCain chose her . . . er, him, his campaign manager Rick Davis said, “Part of it is personal fit.”

“He sees Michael Palin, as the future of the party,” he added. “These are people he’d like to elevate in that regard. reformers.”

“I liked the Limey c***sucker because of that Heinrich Bimmler bit he did years ago,” McCain said. “He reminded me of that rat bastard-faced f****er who ran the Hanoi Hilton.”

Sharyl Odenweller, a retired teacher from Delphos, Ohio who was visiting the store, said she was pleased that McCain had chosen an Englishman and someone “very pro Commonwealth.” But, Odenweller also said, “I’d like to know more about her . . . er, his experience. If something happened to him, would he be qualified to step into the presidency?”

With his pick, McCain passed over more prominent contenders like John Cleese and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as well as others such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, whose support for abortion rights might have sparked unrest at the convention that opens Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

A self-styled hockey mom and political reformer, Palin became MP after ousting a Tory with hints of photgraphy, candid photography, wink wink nod nod say no more!

More recently, she has come under the scrutiny of an investigation by the Republican-controlled legislature into the possibility that she . . . er, he ordered the return of a dead Norwegian blue parrot. 

Palin has a long history of run-ins with the Alaska Oxford alumni association, giving her genuine maverick status and reformer credentials that could complement McCain’s image.

Her . . . er, his wife, is part Yup’ik Eskimo, and is a blue-collar North Slope oil worker who competes in the Iron Dog, a 1,900-mile snowmobile race. The couple lives in Wasilla. They have five children, and Palin enjoys golf, strangling animals and masturbating.

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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