A story by Los Angeles Times staff writer, Peter Wallstein, on the front page of the Saturday, March 1, 2008 issue, prompted me to write. It revolves around the cleverly misleading commercial (but then aren't the most dangerous of those cleverly misleading) running about a “ringing phone in the White House.”
I made commercials back in the days when Barry Goldwater was attacked by showing an atomic bomb seeming to destroy a little girl sniffing a daisy. At least that's how I remember it. I knew the guys who created those false images, and they didn't believe they were being cynical at all.
The story goes on to say that in recent days, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, has accused Senator Barack Obama of misunderstanding the role of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Perhaps he thinks if he repeats confusion and lies endlessly they will become truth. It's not pertinent here to discuss our president’s suggestion that it would not be appropriate for Senator Obama, were he president, to meet with foreign dictators. Talking never killed anyone.
How many American are dismayed by our Cuban embargo? Does it make any of us more secure to impose hardship on a people because of a corrupt government. If that were so we would have to cease communicating with half the world. The way to change the government of Cuba is by getting close to the people and showing them we are their friends. Then they might be more likely to copy us. A bully never wins.
In a handheld, pre Steadycam, tracking shot through countless rows of American graves above the Normandy beaches the colonel spoke about the dozens, perhaps hundreds of high ranking officers in the German military, who upon refusing to murder Jews, were murdered themselves. This madness (Stalin also suffered from the disease of killing his best officers) crippled Hitler and led to shortening the war.
The colonel reminded that no one above the rank of captain, and only one of those, had put his career on the line (not his life) to protest atrocities committed by our military in
For Senator Clinton, being the wife of a president is no sort of training to be one, Any more than by being her husband he learned to cook, sew and raise children.
We must avoid having a president again who was an early child abuse victim. We must avoid presidents who are enraged at their father or, more dangerous, in competition with them. Both our current president and Senator McCain had powerful, overwhelming fathers that they have spent their adult life in competition with. In Senator McCain's case the ghost of his heroic grandfather was also ever present.
Compulsive womanizing, alcoholism, religious fanaticism; are warning signs of a man we should not allow to lead us. Unfortunately they are so common as to be regarded as normal. Sadly, religiosity is considered important by many Americans. It is hard to find a positive resulting from extreme religious belief. It led to – among other religion induced human disasters , including 9/11 -- the Inquisition.
John McCain has the smoke around him of someone who had a difficult early life. He comes from a line of powerful, courageous, and successful military men. One never hears anything about his mother, but she must have been a compliant military wife. In such an early environment it is likely he was beaten. It seems that he isn't present, that some part of him is hidden behind the terrible torture he has endured, and all the smiling and gesticulating is a mask.
Our current president has a similar emotional affect. His smile is as false as his bravado. Propped up by the power of his position, he might seem to some an effective leader. But one sees on television a blank look appear, followed by one of terror, when he is asked to simple question he cannot answer. Dangerous stuff.
Senator McCain has a history of irreverence and opposition, as a young man, to authority. He apparently was quite the cutup in his youth, but thrived. It takes extraordinary courage to fly a military jet in combat. Without the experience you cannot comprehend the skill and information processing talents required. One of the worst qualities a military pilot can have, however, is blindness in the face of obvious defeat. When you run out of bullets or fuel – turn for home.
Senator McCain's anger at authority came to its climax when, we are told, on a bombing run, all set to drop, he saw a Sam missile coming up at him. These things are not invisible; they look like flying telephone poles and have a distinctive radar signature. Apparently, with his radar screaming warning, he could have avoided it. But that would have meant aborting his bombing mission. So stubborn, heroic to a fault, he toggled his bomb where he was supposed to, and the Sam blew his wing off.
This was not the act of a war hero; it was the act of a tragic figure seeking to outdo the phantom of his father. It is not much different from that of a fanatic suicide bomber. Senator McCain was ready to kill himself rather than abort his mission. Will he be willing to take us all with him the next time?
Planes and pilots are fantastically expensive. Senator McCain's training cost our government more than his airplane. He was trained, and experience told him, to save himself and his plane for the next mission -- but anger and intemperance rose above all. "I'm going to get those bastards." This is how far experience rose above poor character.
That is not the mentality we want in our president. Just as we don't want a president who was a crafty draft dodger, alcoholic and personal coward. The next stage of John McCain's career was spent under the most unimaginable circumstances. The tale of his heroism, and refusal to accept special treatment as the son of an admiral, has oft been told. Most men would have given in or died. Not most, virtually anyone. These acts, enduring torture were super human. One wonders what his illustrious father thought of his son’s half mad sacrifice that did none of us any good.
But being able to sustain the unimaginable does not necessarily make for a good president. Senator McCain was stubbornly rebelling against a memory, more powerful than anything in the present. A memory of being a tortured, helpless child. -- even if the torture only took the form of having a father and grandfather who were impossible to beat war heroes.
Our president suffers from this. It haunts his every waking moment. His recent public exclamation about what a “tough guy” he is, spoken through the face of an adolescent frat boy, was telling. It is said McCain has dramatic anger management problems and a history of allowing revenge to overpower his common sense. Dangerous characteristics in the president of the most powerful country in the world.
Watching Senator McCain one is struck by his tortured face, a product of six endless years spent in hopeless, unimaginable conditions. When he speaks about that time he seems to have worked the resulting PTSD through. That in itself is heroic, and rare. He had cancer and that has added to the psychic burden his unconscious must carry. He’s made unfortunate personal choices and those probably weight on him, as they weigh on us all.
But the “tell” – the dramatic and obvious “tell” -- is Senator McCain's incessant use in public speech of the expression, "my friends.” One must beware of what is behind automatic speech. "My friends," is placed in the Senator's conscious brain by his unconscious to conceal and cover up rage.
In the most stressed out period of my 20s, I was married, raising two small children, and trying to build a film company all by myself. I was incapable of having a friend or associate or of asking advice from anyone. I was unconscious of the reasons I was so isolated. The fault lay with my inability at that time to recognize what had been done to me as a child -- which led directly to that place. I was angry and did not know why. The slightest thing set me off. I blamed everyone else, because I could not place the blame where it belonged; on my parents -- and especially on my beloved father.
Then I began speaking automatically. My communication was littered with a series of repeated phrases which were so practiced that I did not stutter when I said them. The repetition comforted me, creating a wall against my unhappiness and terror. Whenever I hear anyone mechanically repeating a phrase, I think what great sorrow lies behind this?
"My friends," tells me that John McCain has no friends. That he is a man flying blindly into a speeding missile, and doesn't give a damn. We don't want him taking our country along with him. He hides his rage behind a mantra of friendliness and reasonableness. His self control is skin deep and we are told those close to him know it. Were he in real power the skin would fall away.
With his hundred year war Senator McCain presents a terrifying prospect for
Senator McCain would have our nation repeat again, the same casual disregard for the obvious as when he ignored a flying telephone pole with a bomb on its tip. The oft referred to experience with foreign affairs and protecting our country, which may be valuable intelligence for our next President, is only useful if it is filtered through a neutral conscious.
This is to say nothing of the families of the men killed tomorrow -- and the tomorrows to follow. They are the greatest tragedy -- because the
We abandoned the pursuit of known terrorists in preference for flashier, but impossibly ambitious “nation building.” The president's ego got the better of him. And there was the “oil.” This has been an imperialistic war, one that in the 21st century most of us are ashamed of. You would be hard-pressed to find an informed commentator or military expert who does not believe that the Iraqi war has created many times more terrorists than it ever killed.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, retired General Merrill McPeak, a prominent backer of "Obama for President" said: "If you want to know what kind of commander in chief Barak is going to be, why don't you compare the campaigns that have been run here? Is it a panic situation? Crisis driven? Are you firing people? Are you loaning yourself money?"
General McPeak sums up what I have written in the previous pages with a comment he once made to Senator McCain: "You don't get to be a hero by getting shot down, you get to be a hero by shooting then other fellow down." General George Patton said much the same.