Sunday, August 31, 2008

not so good

so, i was waiting to see whom john mccain would choose as his pick to run with him for vice president.
go with an old friend, someone's who's been in the congress a long time? mccain is famous for working with democrats and republicans to do good things.
or, as happens with presidential candidates as they're looking for likely running mates, go with a governor, or congressperson, whom perhaps most people don't know well, but who have done some good work and represent something important to the ticket and the party?
well ...

  • mccain chose a governor from a Western state. good, i guess. if it's a governor with a proven, solid record.
  • she's a woman who's been governor for only a year and a half. not necessarily bad, but not so good.
  • mccain chose a woman. good. i mean, good, if it's the right person for the job. and not good, if it's not the right person for the job. i don't give a shit if someone's black or white or red or male or female or gay or straight: i want the right person for the job at hand.
  • but mccain saw that many woman voters who supported hillary clinton could be won if a woman candidate were on his ticket. not so good. he chose a woman who, in her acceptance speech, invoked Geraldine Ferraro, who ran for vice president in 1984, and Hillary Clinton, who ran for president this year. both of those women are democrats, who would disagree with this woman's stand on every issue i can think of. but let's face it: it was a smart strategic move for mccain in a year when millions of women felt angry or sad that the woman they were supporting didn't get to be their nominee. so, here's a woman. let's get the women. and while we're at it, we can get nice middle-class republican women too.
  • mccain chose someone from outside the washington establishment. which can be good. the insular, self-possessed conglomerate of washington politics can be very unhealthy, i believe.
  • but someone who - did i hear this right? - until recently had no passport? who has no experience with federal government? who lives so far outside the beltway that she doesn't know anything about how even to participate in what's happening in washington? not necessarily so good. (not entirely a bad thing - jimmy carter was a relative unknown and a washington outsider - and he's an amazingly good man - but wasn't a great president. etc etc etc) (george w. bush came across as a washington outsider, but come on - a president's son?)
  • mccain chose a fresh face. someone with obvious personal charisma. that can be great. a leader.
  • but i don't know enough about this person to know whether her charisma is in the service of a good mind and heart and healthy purpose, or not. not so good.
  • mccain chose a woman who represents the traditional values of the conservative movement of the last 30 years, including yes to guns, no to abortion, yes to "family", yes to "patriotism", no to same-sex marriage, yes to military expansion, no to large government, yes to religion and government being connected.
  • john mccain only espouses some of these values/positions, and is against some of them. many conservatives said that they were reluctant to support him. so he chose a running mate who is all about conservative stands and values. now those conservatives are saying they will vote for him. not so good.
  • mccain is a decorated and recognized veteran and survivor of a p.o.w. camp. he represents courage. very good.
  • he chose someone whose son is a soldier in iraq, and who is a flag-waver. not so good, if it's being done for political button-pushing. which i think maybe it is. i don't ever see mccain capitalizing on his being a veteran. i have huge respect for that. but she came out swinging her son's being deployed to iraq. creepy.
  • mccain is strong and tough. good. (i wouldn't wrestle him; he'd kick my ass.)
  • mccain is 72 years old and has had cancer twice. not so good. especially if his running mate is someone whom the american people have only a couple of months to test, and get to know, and put in the pressure cooker to see what she's made of. not so good. i don't want a vice president, who very well might become president, whom i haven't had a chance to see over time.
mccain has always been, in my experience, someone who has been independent thinking, and willing to compromise in order to achieve a greater good, and yet also willing to stick to tough principles when it was the right thing to do.
this doesn't feel like that to me. this feels like a strategic choice, one in which he bent his own views on the issues in order to appeal to more conservative voters, and chose a woman to pull in women voters who don't agree with him or his running mate but are pissed off, and did all of this not to get the best thing done but to get elected.
again, creepy.

it's a move that will absolutely work with millions of people. they will see her as a woman with a great story - five kids! the oldest a soldier in iraq and the youngest with downs syndrome! see how good a mom she is! - who fights corruption and stands up to the good old boy network. they'll see her as a mainstream heartland soccer/hockey mom just like them, who was active in the pta and then town council and then became mayor and then became governor and now she's going to be vice president. an american story.
and yeah, i guess all that is true. but i know lots of mainstream heartland soccer/hockey moms who are active in their communities with lots of kids, and i wouldn't want them in charge of a picnic, much less the country.

and ... i'm disappointed in john mccain. none of this feels like the part of him i felt i trusted. i've never seen him as an unworthy candidate. i've always felt that - even if i disagree with him on particulars - he's a good man with integrity. this doesn't feel like integrity. it feels like politics. did he do it because it was the right thing to do for america? true to his deepest convictions? or did he do it because it was a smart move, and it fit his image of being independent and tough, and he's not going to do what you expect? or did he do it because he just wants to win and this was a way to defeat an opponent in an election about change, with all the change juice on his side?

not so good.

ps i know obama selected joe biden partly because joe biden has experience with foreign policy, and is experienced in washington politics, and is seen as an everyday common dude, all of which obama's critics had said he wasn't strong in. but joe biden is a man we've known for decades, whom we have the opportunity to test and whose record we can know, and i also think joe biden is cool, and smart, and strong. i've thought so for a long time.
the smartest thing obama could've done if all he wanted to do was get elected would've been to select hillary clinton as his running mate. but he didn't. she wasn't the best person to work as part of his administration and what he's about. he chose for larger reasons. he didn't sell out. but i think maybe mccain did.

oh well. same shit, different candidates?

8 comments:

Chiron' said...

Which flavor of vanilla would you like to have?

We have every flavor of vanilla that you could possibly imagine.

Don't forget to vote now!

(hangs head in shame over american politics)

^..^~

carl said...

something you said sunday stuck with me. To paraphrase...you said during the period of the kings the "good" ones did two things. 1-they followed Yahweh 2-they took care of the poor.

I don't think we can predict how either candidate will handle #1, but this comparison from one.org regarding #2 makes it really difficult for me to see how McCain could be meditating on the ways of Jesus. just my 2 cents...

shalom

Laurel said...

Maybe McCain just had a senior moment :-). It will be interesting to see how the next 60 some days play out.

nonprofitprophet said...

"mccain chose a fresh face. someone with obvious personal charisma. that can be great. a leader.

but i don't know enough about this person to know whether her charisma is in the service of a good mind and heart and healthy purpose, or not. not so good."

YOUR 2 POINTS ABOVE ARE THE EXACT WAY I FEEL ABOUT OBAMA. 4 YEARS IN THE SENATE AND NEVER THE HEAD OF A GOVERNMENT - EVEN A STATE GOVERNMENT. SO, YEAH, YOU ARE RIGHT, SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT CANDIDATES. MCCAIN IS BIDEN AND OBAMA IS PALIN.
I TELL YA, ITS JUST GOING TO COME DOWN TO WHERE EACH PERSON FALLS ON THE ISSUES - AND I DON'T THINK "the person" IS GOING TO MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE. ~NPP

journeyingrick said...

i just feel like we've had a lot more time to all see obama under pressure, see him think and talk through what he's about, see him evolve, and for me he's passed important tests. i don't have time to see palin do anything except be a hastily-packaged product with a nice ribbon. i'm not satisfied that being the mayor of a small town and then governor of a small-in-population state gives her "executive experience" as the media's saying, enough to run the largest and most powerful country in the world.
i'm just bummed, that's all.

nonprofitprophet said...

I understand where you are coming from. Put this in another context: Would you rather have some inexperienced person as your Pastor because they have a good heart, or would you rather have a Pastor because they have had pastorial (in word only) experience? I think you know what I mean. And Palin hasn't been packaged by the Rep Party - she has went against them (as has McCain) in her own State. Fought Cronyism there. She is very independent overall. I would have rather seen Obama pick her - would have given more credibility to his "Change Washington" campaign.
I am trying to be careful to try and not "defend" any of them because I lean one way or the other, or let others tell me what to think. As you know, this is the first time I've seriously considered the democratic side for Nat'l office (most times I don't seriously consider any of them) because I was inspired by Obama's rhetoric. But I gotta keep in mind he and the others are just politicians and they all have rhetoric. He has no experience leading a gov't, even state, so thats behind Palin actually in experience... BUT ... I don't care about that. I want someone who will address the issues of our day and get something done. Rep or Dem. Lets go drink a beer and have a cigar and talk about God for a change. How bout Journeying Rick and NPP for Pres/VP? Write us in folks... we can agree to disagree and still get something done!
~npp

KJ said...

Holy Sh****T!!! NPP and JP ticket. Hell's bell's...sign me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

journeyingrick said...

here's a long and beautiful comment/essay from a dear friend.

There is no doubt that the candidates, Obama and Palin, represent substantial cultural changes indicating the acceptability of having a black man and/or a woman in apparent leadership positions. However, I do not attribute this change significantly to any particular political leadership. Rather, my view of history is that this change (or these changes) have resulted mainly from courageous and radical beliefs and activities of committed persons who have been outside of the established cultural hierarchies. Oddly enough, both Obama and Palin have gone to some lengths to distance themselves from these radical roots; Obama’s positions are not focused on “black” perspectives, or “black vs. white” positions and Palin is certainly not a feminist in any common understanding of a “feminist” activist. Perhaps that is as it should be, in that the considerations about discrimination on grounds of either race or sex do not seem to be of such controversy or debate that would necessarily define an essential component of these candidates’ platforms. It is interesting, nevertheless, that Obama would go to such lengths to distance himself from the rather commonplace observations (commonplace at the very least of the historical context of the “black” movement against discrimination) made by his pastor and mentor regarding race relations, and that Palin would be selected largely because of her views contrary to more common feminist positions on abortion, sex education and the like. One might observe that they are acceptable to the culture, a great matter of change and progress, only because they cannot be identified in association with, or as important leaders of the very ideals, activities and consciousness that brought about the changes that now allow them to participate – i.e. to participate just like other white male candidates would participate. So, we might conclude that these candidates represent a new icon of the American “melting pot” culture, where different groups achieve acceptance primarily by assimilation.

Which brings me back to my point – by all the polls, we are a culture allocated on all major issues basically 50 – 50, whether it is Obama vs. McCain or Red Sox vs. Yankees. We might argue whether this represents a fundamental division or a fundamental unity; in either instance, it is a perspective in which the risk of any fundamental change is outweighed by the apparent security or stability of the status quo. This 50-50 status has not always been the case on various issues, like the war in Vietnam (at the end) or, for that matter, racial or sexual discrimination. The 50-50 status dictates 50-50 candidates, which is exactly what, in my opinion, we have today. In both cases, Obama and McCain have made their first important decisions, that of identifying running mates, completely on the 50-50 principle, it is highly unlikely that further decisions, designations, rhetoric or activities will fall outside of 50-50, and it is unreasonable to expect that they will make commitments to fundamental change in any regard, lest they tip the balance and the election.

We might further observe that the current 50-50 principle is not likely to prevail indefinitely, at least as generally as it seems to at the present time. We might hope and/or expect that there are there are the “Jackie Robinson’s” who willing to commit (and risk) their lives to challenge the cultural myths and taboos, or the “Martin Luther King’s” who are willing to speak out in eloquent advocacy for high ideals and real change. We might ask: which of the current candidates would be likely to tolerate what degree of dialogue? What would trigger the response of the system? And, to what degree would the inevitable repression be imposed? More importantly, we might ask: What degree of control could any of the candidates have over such matters?

I have my own particular background, education, experiences, influences and opinions; I am certainly on one side or the other of the 50-50 line. I will vote, just so I make sure to cancel out my counterpoint (usually my wife). I will wonder if the espoused virtues of democracy can indeed prevail over contrary forces of power and orthodoxy that seem to be so prevalent in our time. On the other hand, I will not consider my vote to be the most important part of my participation. I do trust and believe that the “votes” we all take in our day-to-day attitudes and actions prevail over everything – whether they are right, wrong or indifferent. I believe that there is a lot of fear today in our culture and in our personal lives. This is only secondarily a political problem, in that on the front line, such fear takes hold in our daily lives, inhibiting our creative powers, our capacity to appreciate and enjoy, and our willingness to share and serve one another. Fear inflicted is propaganda. Fear accepted is the matrix. I will do my best to vote against both.