Monday, June 30, 2008

Bang the drum slowly

by Capt. Fogg

Barak Obama, we're told, rejects General Wesley Clark's opinion that John McCain's service in Viet Nam, an important qualification for people who think dropping bombs is good presidential training, doesn't necessarily make for a good Commander in Chief. I agree.

Obama, of course can't say what he means, lest every word be twisted and used against him in the court of sleazy hyperbolic rhetoric and patriotism, but why would McCain's particular military experience teach him any of the many, many things a President should be expert in? Yes, it's a real military experience, unlike Bush's, but it didn't teach him all about the military industrial complex, the inner workings of the Pentagon and the other entities a president has to be able to work with and control. He is no expert on strategy, or policy or logistics or anything in fact other than the piloting of now obsolete aircraft to drop bombs on civilians.

Even if we insist that military command experience is a great teacher, John McCain is no Eisenhower and John McCain doesn't seem to have gained any real understanding of the problems of military personnel or veterans, at least far enough to have firm, clear and expressed opinions about things like the Geneva Conventions and the treatment of prisoners. He has little enough to impress us with and so we will hear more about the background he has and not about the background he should have had.

We were told years ago, when the simple mindedness of George W. Bush became apparent, that he would pick good advisers and so it didn't matter that he had no knowledge of world affairs, economics, history and trivia such as Constitutional law. He would pick good advisers. It's redundant in the extreme to repeat the results of his advisers' bad advice. Are we poised to repeat the same mistake by electing McCain? Who would his advisers be, TV evangelists? Defense contractor lobbyists?

I confess that my bias is toward intellect; toward people who ideas are relatively straightforward, but not simplistic and emotionally based. I prefer people who are actively learning rather than "taking a stand." I far prefer someone who speaks as the intellectual equal to the best of us and not just like the boys at VFW hall. If any presidency has demonstrated that "regular guyness" is not only insufficient but dangerous, it's our current one. Let's not do it again.

An old saw has it that to a carpenter, every problem is fixed with a hammer. Can our problems best be solved with bombs according to McCain's military training? Will our problems be solved by using powerful family connections, abandoning past commitments and getting into bed with someone wealthy the Way John solved his? Perhaps so. George Bush also tried to solve our problems, and the problems he created, according to his military background: that is to say, with lies, cover-ups, shredded records, invented stories and massive secrecy using the aid of powerful and wealthy allies. That's pretty much what he did during his brief and disastrous business adventure as well. Let's not do it again.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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