Friday, August 29, 2008

The best news since my orphanhood...

Sen. McCain was awarded the Navy Cross for outstanding leadership, toughness and endurance.

Today's action shows us that he'll still take a big old risk. I would never have dreamed that he would have dared to offer the nomination to Governor Palin.

All those "I'm a conservative, I'm not voting for McCain" people are saying, "Hold up..."

This will waaaaaay irritate the lefties and the gender politicians, who hate being asked why their lists of great women never include Margaret Thatcher or Liddy Dole.

The lefties will have to make up some new ad feminem attacks-

Chickenhawk! Why aren't your children in Iraq? (Umm, mine and my running mate's are.)

NRA life member! (Yes, just like Saint Jack.)

Sexist! (???)

Raaaacist! (Tell my husband, the Native American. Or my running mate's daughter, the Indian.)

Silver Spoon! (Tell my husband the pipeline worker. Or my children, in public schools like I was, and like our opponents weren't and their children aren't.)

I've already heard that being governor of a state with a "limited population" isn't important. Um, Delaware has only 200,000 people more than Alaska. Damn!

I know- neither Republican candidate is a lawyer!

That will get people mad at them!

My favourite part will, I think, be when they bring up petty, irrelevant stuff. I can imagine it now-

"Governor Palin, our network as found naked pictures of you from 1985, do you have a comment?"

"Yes, I am naked under my clothes just as you are. Next?"

Another more sober reflection- both Republicans have personally engaged in dangerous personal stuff, and have experienced the infliction of death personally. They have seen the elephant.*

That's not meaningless. It seems strange, but follow along. A president has to get metaphorical blood on his hands from time to time, and it's not a bad idea for him to have seen the real thing close up. Bush 1, Kennedy, Truman, and Theodore Roosevelt all did, and they weren't so bad.

A combat veteran, an EMT, nurse, farmer, hunter, or slaughterman know inside what the end of life looks like, what we all come to.

I am reminded of something George Orwell said about Gandhi:

"Even when he was fighting what was in effect a color war, he did not think of people in terms of race or status. The governor of a province, a cotton millionaire, a half-starved Dravidian coolie, a British private soldier were all equally human beings, to be approached in much the same way."

I get the feeling that McCain sees each of us as a person, and Obama sees us as categories. I don't like that, I think it's an evil and dangerous way to think. Its what is behind every terrible political and social outlook, from social exclusion to segregation to Kolyma.

And scarier, that leaves himself as the only individual.

It's his world, and the rest of us just live in it.

Legislatures are full of very successful, very effective, very useful sociopaths. But executive sociopaths are very dangerous indeed.

*"...the whole story begins with the classic American traveling carnival. Back in the early 19th century, the arrival of such a carnival in a small town was a major occasion, affording the town's residents the opportunity to sample all sorts of exotic attractions, from the grotesque denizens of the sideshow to wild beasts from Africa and Asia that many people at that time had only read of in books. The big draw at many of these shows was an elephant, a far bigger and stranger critter than any animal native to North America, and to go to the carnival without "seeing the elephant" would be like going to the Ohio State Fair without seeing the Butter Cow. (Yes, it's a life-size cow sculpted from butter, sort of a giant advertisement for bypass surgery.)

So ritualized was this small-town pachyderm-mania that by about 1835 "to see the elephant" had become a catch phrase meaning "to experience all that there is to see, to see all that can be endured," with the sense that after having "seen the elephant" there was nothing left to see. A related, more general sense arose a few years later, in which "to have seen the elephant" meant "to be worldly, no longer innocent, to have learned a hard lesson." Many young people of the day who left the country for the big city with stars in their eyes only to experience hardship and disappointment were wryly said to have "seen the elephant" in this sense. And by about 1840, "see the elephant" had acquired the specialized military sense you have heard, meaning "to experience combat for the first time," with the brutal loss of innocence that ordeal conveys."

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