Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

03 September 2008

Mavericks

If I hear the term "maverick" associated with John McCain one more time, I think I am going to puke.

The Republican Party is trying very hard to portray McCain as a Man Of Change! He's a man who crosses party lines, reaches across the aisle, blah blah blah. In fact, he's not just a maverick. Hell, he was a fighter pilot; he IS Maverick! Just like Tom Cruise in that movie!

It's just so much bullshit. He's a politician...a career politician. He will say whatever it takes to get elected, simple as that. I can't take it anymore.

Back during the primaries, there was that saying about Rudy Giuliani: "When Giuliani speaks, every sentence contains a noun, a verb, and 9/11." (It is still true today.) When John McCain speaks, every sentence contains a noun, a verb and "prisoner of war." It seems that it is simply impossible for anyone to talk about McCain (including himself) without bringing up his Viet Nam war experience, both as a fighter pilot and as a P.O.W.

Like it friggin' matters.

Okay, he spent years as a captive in a torturous prison. He endured stuff that would have in all likelihood killed me. For that he deserves and gets our undying respect. He's da man. But does that qualify him to be President? Does that even qualify him to lead our military as Commander In Chief? Let's just see.

McCain's U.S. Naval Academy graduating class consisted of 899 cadets. McCain did not graduate in the top 10. He didn't even graduate in the top ten percent. Not the top 50 percent, either. Nope, John McCain graduated 894th. Out of 899. Not exactly a great beginning. I'm sure his father and grandfather (high-ranking career military men themselves) were just bursting at the seams with pride. "Well hey Johnny, you sure did better than those other five guys. Way to go!"

McCain's proficiency as a pilot can be legitimately questioned. Robert Timberg's book, "John McCain: An American Odyssey" reports that he crashed two airplanes and had a wire strike with a third. And then, of course, he was shot down.

After returning from captivity, McCain was physically rehabilitated and then briefly given command of a flight training squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. Realizing that he'd never make it to the rank of Admiral (no sea command), he retired in 1981. In 1982 he switched to politics. He's been in Congress or the Senate ever since.

People talk about McCain's military background if it were the only thing that should be considered of a presidential candidate. Well, if being President were solely about leading our military, John McCain would not even be my first choice. There are those better qualified than he. But as President, McCain will very likely have to deal with one or two other issues. He's already admitted that his knowlege of the economy is weak. God only knows what other deficiencies he has.

He is certainly a mediocre public speaker, as evidenced by his speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention last night. I expected to be glued to the screen in rapt attention. Halfway through I picked up my laptop and began surfing my helicopter discussion forums, only half-listening to the same crap we've heard year after year after year. Then again, Rudy Giuliani's speech/stand-up comedy routine and Mitt Romney's astonishingly bizarre rant from the previous night were tough acts to follow. Even Sarah "Maverick" Palin upstaged McCain with her acceptance speech.

Look, has any presidential candidate ever not promised to shrink government...to cut wasteful government spending...to reduce our dependance on foreign oil? Has any presidential hopeful ever not promised to cut taxes...and stand up to those nefarious "special interest groups?"

Do we even pretend to believe them anymore? Dear God, why? Oh, please. I'm just sick of it. Sick of all the lying and pandering and politicians telling me what they think I want to hear.

If McCain wins...and that's a very big "if" at this point...he will be a very mediocre one-term president. Four years won't nearly be enough to accomplish all of the things he's promised us so far.

27 comments:

Redlefty said...

I'm with you and thoroughly nonplussed with the whole thing on both sides.

If I laid it all out, though, the Republican speeches included more lies than the Democrats. But the Dems didn't do any better in giving actual specifics of their plans and policies. It's a wash of unimpressive preening.

There's no way to forecast who will be a great President, I don't think. But being a good mom or a POW certainly isn't an automatic qualifier. Why the Republicans keep harping on those qualities is something I just don't get.

I didn't watch Obama's or McCain's speeches -- just read transcripts later. I saw Biden's and Palin's though.

I'm ready for this all to be over!

Redlefty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Barbanes said...

Obama is a great speechgiver, no doubt about it. But like all politicians, he promises things that range from the silly to the outrageous. "I'll cut taxes blah blah blah I'll spend 150 billion dollars over the next ten blah blah blah I'll create jobs that are not outsourceable blah blah blah..."

Shut the hell up.

(Obama clearly had better speechwriters than McCain though, and to see him deliver that speech was, frankly, inspiring. McCain, who I'd really like to vote for, inspired me to tune out.)

Seems to me that if I had to describe the two conventions in a nutshell it would be this:

The Republicans feed on our national paranoia about "terrorism" as if nothing else is important. They have to make Joe Lunchbox afraid that he'll be subject to a terrorist attack in Smalltown, USA. Thus, the only defense against such attack would be a militarily strong President! This is why there is such a focus on McCain's war record.

The Democrats are the dreamers here, looking to the future with high expectations of making things better...and making vague promises about how to do it.

Frankly, I don't worry about terrorist attacks in the U.S. We're a free society, and with that comes certain risk. No government can stop terrorist activities completely, and it's naive to assume one could. Claiming that President Bush has done so by pointing to the fact that there have been none since 9/11/01 is just ludicrous. When "terrorists" want to attack us again, they will in a location and at a time of their choosing. To deny this is to deny reality.

At the end of the day, it's not about who's a "maverick," or who's more "prepared to lead," or who's done this or that. I guess it's about who we believe will get this economy going again. To me, that's the biggest issue.

Redlefty said...

And that's still my #1 concern about McCain. He had been forced to admit he's not an "economy" guy. Palin's a short-term governor of a state with no income taxes, a state who's expenses are funded by resource subsidies... so she hasn't experienced what it's like to manage a budget paid for by the citizens. Cleary someone else will be tabbed as the Repub economic specialist, but who? I'd like to know ASAP so I can get a feel for what approach they'd bring to the table.

The New York Times had a fantastic article about Obama's economic background and views. You should check it out -- it's by David Leonhardt and it's free to read online. Long read but worth it. Obama went on and on with the interviewer and showed he has clearly studied and contemplated these things deeply. It doesn't mean he'll get it right, but it at least shows he cares.

I want to see the same from the Republican side so I can weigh the pros/cons of each approach. But the continued combination of low taxes and big spending won't work.

Rodolfo said...

I've always tried to understand economy from a science and technology standpoint. If we're the leading the world in innovation then the money will come.

So I've been waiting on when the two finalists (this is a reality show by the way) will finally come around to answering 14 questions posed by a collection of Nobel laureates, scientists, educators and concerned citizens. Senator Obama struck first and for the most part I think the scientific community received it well and praised his answers to be much more detailed than expected. You can read it here:

http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=2

Still waiting on Mr. McCain's answers.

If the economy is a top priority in this country I think it would help to learn about where these two men stand on science.

Matthew said...

McCain's speech last night was horrendous, full of awkward pauses and inane platitudes. I don't think people were listening too hard, because I felt like people started cheering or chanting "USA! USA!" a little too soon, sometimes before he even got a sentence out, and no matter what he said. His, and Palin's, speech were so full of twisted facts I had to wonder if he and Obama are running for the same presidency.

The people on the convention floor were so white, I had to put on sunglasses. The Republican party just does not make me feel good.

Maybe Obama isn't all he's cracked up to be either, but he's a better choice than McCain, and way, way better than Bush. I couldn't believe Bush got re-elected in 2004. If America elects McCain this time around, I'm gonna have to seriously question what you guys are thinking down there!

Rodolfo said...

Obviously with Governor Palin's pick she's reinvigorated the *Base* that voted in the current President. What I don't understand is if they're all about being the party of God why did they openly attack and mock Obama's community organizing? Wasn't it Jesus who was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate the governor?

The Republican Party is not the same party of yesteryear. They've openly adopted Evangelical Christianity as their core philosophy. Obama's religious pandering is questionable but at least he was raised by a secular woman who taught him to be skeptical of religious authority. James Dobson and his ilk just might get their *prayers* answered.

I pray for the Republic.

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing out loud from your comment here, Bob.

McCain isn't a great teleprompter speaker like Obama. In fact, I thought McCain's most comfortable moment during his speach was when someone tried to disrupt him and while the crowd was shouting USA -USA McCain replied, "please don't be diverted by the ground noise and static."

He's more comfortable off the cuff than Obama.

The debates oughta open the whole thing up a little.


kman

Bob Barbanes said...

Oh, I agree, kman. It was the crowd's reaction to those demonstrators which was causing all the counter-chanting. And yes, McCain handled it really, really well, I thought. He *is* good off-the-cuff. The trouble is, he's not good where it really counts...which is...you know...talking about something other than his war experience and how it's made him who he is today. I was dearly hoping that he'd be more spontaneous than he was.

I'll say it again: McCain's acceptance speech *was* boring and uninspiring. (My boss has a completely different opinion, by the way.) But it also caused me to laugh out loud, albeit unintentionally. McCain ought to take some lessons in working with a teleprompter. In talking about Sarah Palin, he said, "She’s the mother of five children. She’s helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it’s like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries."

But he paused at a very inopportune time. The way it came out and sounded was this, "She's helped run a small business, worked with her hands and nose...(pause)...knows what it's like..."

And I thought, "Poor bastard, he's gonna catch hell for that one."

David Leonhardt's NYT article (that Michael/Redlefty referred to) on Obama was enlightening. Obama seems to really understand the subject and how the policies of past Adminstrations have gotten us to where we are today. He is evidently an intelligent man who is well-versed in the economy.

McCain is going to have to rely on his advisors. I hope they're good ones.

I'm just so tired of the empty rhetoric. Give me a President who can actually lead, who can unite us and motivate us all to be better Americans.

Jack said...

McCain's comments to ignore the static was in reference to a Code Pink protester who was heckling. Every time the protester shouted, the crowd would drown her out with chants of USA.

Note that Code Pink also did this to Palin.

Obama is a carbon-copy of Jimmy Carter, and his stated policies - increase taxes, government subsidies for everything from idiots who bought a house or car they can't afford to unproven technology, reduction in funds for the armed forces - will lead us right into stagflation - again. At the end of Jimmy's reign, we couldn't successfully field 4 helicopters full of special forces soldiers to rescue our hostages.

I suffered through that once and won't do it again.

Rodolfo said...

Jack-Would you rather have a carbon-copy of Jimmy Carter in Obama or a carbon-copy of Bush in McCain?

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you even asked that question, Rodolfo.


kman

Matthew said...

Rodolfo's question is a valid one.

Anonymous said...

Jack sez:

Obama is a carbon-copy of Jimmy Carter, and his stated policies - increase taxes, government subsidies for everything from idiots who bought a house or car they can't afford to unproven technology, reduction in funds for the armed forces - will lead us right into stagflation - again. At the end of Jimmy's reign, we couldn't successfully field 4 helicopters full of special forces soldiers to rescue our hostages.

I suffered through that once and won't do it again.

(IE - vote for MCcain... oh, yeah, there's always Nadar.)

Rodolfo sez:

Jack-Would you rather have a carbon-copy of Jimmy Carter in Obama or a carbon-copy of Bush in McCain?

(huh?)

kman sez:

Can't believe you even asked that question, Rodolfo.

Bob Barbanes said...

To assume that Obama would be a "carbon copy" of Carter is to suggest that there has been no passage of time. Neither is McCain a clone of Bush. McCain is not dumb.

Obama is a smart man too. He has studied the policies of past Presidents thoroughly, and understands the issues of raising/lowering taxes and on whom. Perhaps he understand these issues better than McCain.

Reducing taxes on the wealthy is supposed to help the economy, but the long run has shown that it's not always true. Me, I'm no economic genius, but I think a more in-depth study of the situation is called for before I cast my vote.

I'll say this: I'm leaning toward Obama, but he hasn't won it yet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your thoughts, Bob. I'm not excited about either candidate. However, I found myself appreciating Hillary more than Obama during the Primary. Obama has some nasty issues. Rev. Wright, Rezko, Ayers, ACORN. Can't imagine what the press would do to MCcain, or Hillary for that matter, if those reports were tied to them.


kman

Rodolfo said...

I take it back. McCain is not a carbon-copy of anyone. Sarah Palin on the other hand just might be. She's George Bush in lipstick.

Kman-If you are gonna hold those *issues* to Obama then it's only fair that you hold McCain and Palin to the same standards. A quick google of Palin's background will reveal a handful of similar *issues*. Probably the most damaging is the abuse of power scandal. Hopefully the investigation comes out well before November.

At this point I'll vote for anyone with fresh ideas and a new vision. Unless you're the top 2% in this country I don't think you can argue these last 7 years have been all that great. It's time for change. More than half the country knows it in their gut. McCain may not be Bush but voting with him over 90% of the time last year makes you wonder.

Anonymous said...

George Bush in lipstick?

Well, there you go again... if you're going to use analogies, get it right!

She's Ronald Reagan in a dress! :-)


kman

Bob Barbanes said...

...Either of which is a disturbing image, man.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't know about that, Bob...

But, now I know where you really stand... and that's OK by me.


kman

Anonymous said...

McCain = Pain
It's amazing how anyone would vote for the republican party after eight years of hell.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin on the other hand just might be. She's George Bush in lipstick.

That's kinder than what Obama had to say recently.

Rodolfo said...

Like Obama said on Letterman the other night if he actually meant to tie Palin with those comments she would be the lipstick and McCain's policies would be the pig.

Focus on the economy folks!!

Do you think China and India are feeding their children media soundbites? These countries are going to continue to out-compete us if we don't get our act together.

Anonymous said...

Out compete us?!

How much do you think China and India, not feeding their children soundbites, are paying their labor per hour?

Soundbites or not, you can't get away with slave labor conditions in the US.

Do you think the US should be more like China and India?


kman

Rodolfo said...

Heck at least they got jobs. And most of those jobs were formerly American jobs until we got sold out. I don't care so much about what the wages are over there as opposed to what happened to our jobs here.

No I think we should LEAD China and India. I would like to see the rest of the world to take their cue from the USA. They don't because the rest of the world doesn't take us seriously.

Anonymous said...

What does one do when one can buy widgets from foreign countries and have them shipped to US much cheaper than supporting a factory, property taxes, building maintenance, payroll, payroll taxes, FICA, benefits, potential lawsuits from disgruntled employees, etc., etc. in the US, when they can purchase overseas for so little...AND their competition has already done so threatening to put them OUT of business?

I understand your feelings, Rodolfo. But, this is reality. We also need other countries to buy more American products!


kman

Rodolfo said...

I agree with your last statement. I would like to believe that our standing in the world has not fallen because of the last 4-5 years. A weakened image ultimately diminishes our USA brand making us a tougher sell.

I hope when you vote in November you've given both sides every opportunity to state their case. I'm disturbed by so many people in our country voting a particular ideology.