Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why John McCain Is Doomed

The United States has been at war in the Mid-East for almost 7 years. That war was always enormously misguided, craven, and expensive, always was going to be. Just as predictably, we've lost that romp of incompetence although few seem prepared to admit it yet. Six years ago, very few people, and far fewer politicians, were mentally "with it" enough to point at the Big Picture. Even now, for fun and profit the tatterdemalion media prefer to focus on tactics, which factors to multiply which way: "Candidate X does better with bowlers, Candidate Y does well with eaters of seaweed. In other news, Occupied Country Z is opening an amusement park." Ad captandum vulgus, ad infinitum. It's like reading the titles of books as they're driven off their shelves by an earthquake.

Of course the longing for (some say the manufacture of) a new lion can be traced back to the disasters of the old. Yet perhaps it's more the Moment itself which calls new lions forth. Who we elect will, amongst other things, determine whether we can cut the atmosphere's CO2 levels enough to stop playing "The Ghosts of Mars" with Mother Earth, or whether we end up getting nuked or not. Little decisions, big outcomes.

Hillary Clinton supported the war, and her big backers support the war. John McCain supported the war, and his big backers support the war. That's why they will lose. They'll lose because they've been bought and paid for, they'll lose to someone we've bought and paid for. They'll lose because they'll never give this speech:

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.I don’t oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars.

And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the President today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.


berensma said...

It's like reading the titles of books as they're driven off their shelves by an earthquake.

Nice metaphor!

berensma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MarcLord said...

coming from a professional writer, I'll take the compliment. Thanks!

Naj said...

Is this your speech or Obama's?

MarcLord said...

It's Obama's. If I could talk like that, I'd at least have been elected to a school board. ;-)

Bruce said...

also, McCain is doomed because he has drunk more kool-aid that W, he's just as dim as W, and he lacks the telegenic, and charismatic (for many, anyway) qualities of the best demagogues.

MarcLord said...


McCain is immune to Kool-Aid; as the guy in The Princess Bride says, "Drink a little poison every day, so it can never hurt you." To your points, I would only add this: his main appeal is that he offers a Return to Vietnam. How's that for a campaign slogan?

isabelita said...

I do hope you are right. I just don't know how much of a stranglehold the "winning team" of GOPers and fellow travelers who've been making out like bandits over the past two shrub terms still has.

MarcLord said...


There's a long way to go and anything could happen in this cranked-up country. At the moment, the GOP is trying to sail into the strong gusts of disgust.

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