Dear John: The Enemy Of Your Enemy May Not Be Your Friend genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I've been rather quiet of late...feeling I had little new to offer on the presidential campaign. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that more words aren't always wise I often need time to ponder in the hopes of finding the right words. Having watched the final presidential debate, a couple things became evident and noteworthy.

By and large, pundits and political strategists have been seeking the means to understand the McCain campaign's strategy in light of its seeming inconsistency. There seems to be an inclination to view this as a function of mismanagement or incompetence.

I think that's an oversimplification that ignores the underlying adherence to ideology on the part of his ideology that has blind intransigence at its core and believes the end justifies the ideology that jumped the proverbial shark when its adherents became convinced that yesterday's successes should guide their present pursuits and thus assure their future relevance.

It's important to understand the why and how of this misguided well as the motivations that led John McCain to make it his own. That brings me to a telling comment made by John McCain in the first debate. Take a look at the video.

While the topic being discussed at this juncture in the debate was the war in Iraq, it is a perfect metaphor for what ails John McCain, his campaign, and the Republican Party. When McCain asserts that Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, their collective house of cards is is their vulnerability.

Here's the point. We can argue about the motivations for the war in Iraq, but there is little doubt that a number of the failures we experienced resulted from the calculated conflation of political strategy and military tactics on the part of the president and his minions. At the time, fear (as a result of 9/11) served to supplant the rationality and reasonability of the public and enabled the Bush administration to utilize the war as a cynical tactic in a political strategy. Hence, the Bush administration's strategy in prosecuting the war became a series of tortured political considerations.

Truth be told, the decisions and actions of the GOP, and George Bush in particular during the bulk of the last eight years, have been the by-product of fabrication and falsification. At the same time, the use of similar methods to victimize John McCain during the 2000 presidential primary set in motion his own amorphous transformation towards embracing the thoughtless pursuit of ideological purity for political gain. That transformation facilitated a flawed belief that his succession to the presidency was a linear equation.

In other words, McCain incorrectly concluded that if A plus B led to the election and reelection of George Bush, it would also lead to his victory in 2008. Unfortunately, he failed to consider the fact that variables can easily alter the validity of any equation...let alone one primarily constructed upon contrivance. John McCain's reliance upon many of the ideologues who cut their teeth crafting this mathematical myth only served to insure his ideological surrender, indoctrination, and his inevitable inability to intuit otherwise.

In the end, John McCain's campaign has therefore become a string of tactics absent a strategy. Without the constraining constancy of the fear fomented by 9/11 as its ally, his message became a muddled mix of momentary manipulations that has now fallen upon deaf ears. Efforts to employ fear as his cornerstone have left his house of cards uninviting...and without a formula or a foundation to build upon.

Adding to his apparent misfortune, John McCain also appears prone to an ego that personalizes everything he encounters. In doing so, he's not inclined to internal examination or engaging in thoughtful review of attendant circumstances; rather he's more likely to strike out and blame others. The fact that he so easily personalized the "hurtfulness" of the words of John Lewis, while seemingly ignoring the gravity of derogatory and dangerous remarks directed towards his opponent at his campaign's rallies, reinforces my contention and underscores the existence of his externalized one-sided persona.

In today's political environment, that makes him appear more like a surly and stubborn old man falling tragically upon his own sword than a wise wizard with the wherewithal to remove a sacred sword from a stone in order to assume his righteous role. The juxtaposition of tragedy and fantasy may well typify the extent of his disconnected duality...and therefore his drama-filled demise.

As I've watched McCain navigate these three debates, he has seemingly made the transition from a flummoxed politician, fumbling his handler's lines, to an agitated and boorish bully who indiscriminately hurls bricks of bitterness at the object of his ire. When it's all said and done, the man who asserted that he put country first has become the victim of his own ambition.

His willingness to embrace the expediency of ideology, while ignoring the fact that the enemy of one's enemy may not always be one's friend, may have driven his downfall. John McCain chose to surrender his honor in the hope that he could hire one enemy to defeat another...without properly gauging the dynamics of the moment or the merits of executing an encore of 2004 in the shadow of 2006.

Perhaps John McCain needs to examine and redirect a few of his anger-laden bricks in order to begin the process of rebuilding an authentic that isn't reliant upon the triviality of transparent tactics. Something tells me the task of constructing a sound and secure structure, premised upon self-awareness, will be a lengthy and painful project for the senator. Then again, until that happens, I fear his heart will be haplessly hollow.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Debate, George W. Bush, Ideology, Iraq, John McCain, Politics

Daniel DiRito | October 16, 2008 | 10:15 AM
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1 On October 17, 2008 at 9:24 AM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

Daniel: this is a bit tangential, but it is part of what I sent out to everyone I know regarding prop. 8. It is relevant to what you say, though.

"I don't believe for a moment that this is truly about marriage, any more than Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell is about military preparedness, or anti-gay-adoption laws are about the welfare of the children, or sodomy laws are about morality and family values. It is about what it has always been about: how much the very existence of gay people bothers some straight people, and some wanna-be-straight-but-ain't people. I have yet to hear one reason against the full inclusion of gay people in our society that doesn't boil down to that-- logic, fact, truth, principle, and compassion be damned. (And relevant to Daniel's thoughts on the sorry mess of McCai-- same kind of a problem).

Defeating Prop. 8 goes far beyond supporting Paul's and my marriage, though if you are a part of our lives and love us, that would be reason enough.

It is a vote against an ancient but durable and incredibly vicious prejudice being used as a basis for social policy. I do not use the word "vicious" lightly. If you have any doubts about the word, you need only listen to the pro-8 ads. Is not being called a threat to family, faith, freedom, children, marriage-- if not western civilization itself-- just not about as vicious as you can get? We're just Ben and Paul.(Not the threat to america that McSamne promises we are).

It is a vote against the idea that only some people are equal before the law. Other people get their civil rights voted on. If they can vote on my marriage, they can vote on my domestic partnership, or indeed, on any legal recognition of Paul's and my life together.

It is a vote against the religious right's theocratic agenda for America, and their overweening influence in the party that, in the abandonment of its principles in favor of political expediency, conservative religious belief, and partisan gain, has brought our country to the sorry state it is in. Don't worry about the economy or Iraq or Abramoff or the Constitution. Ben and Paul are getting married!

It is a vote for religious freedom for all, not just for conservative denominations.

It is a vote for the children of gay people: 70,000 children with gay parents will be worth the same as the children of heterosexual parents, their families with the same security that marriage brings.

It is a vote for other children: I long for the day when no child grows up thinking that he or she is worthless, evil, sick, or perverted, not worthy of equal treatment before the law, not worthy of romantic love, not worthy of G-d's love itself, because they happen to prefer people of their own gender. I long for the day when no boy or girl thinks suicide is the only alternative to being called a fag or a dyke. Some studies show that as much of a third of all teen suicide attempts start there.

I could go on-- as you know-- but one last thing will suffice. This is a vote for the future of our country, not just the future of our marriage. A resounding "NO" will be a clear message: the politics of division, wedge issues, scapegoating, and distraction are not going to work much longer. Maybe then, we can actually begin to devote our national energies towards issues that affect our future as a country, instead of to the culture wars of the religious right, and to things that should actually not matter to anyone but us, our friends, and our families.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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John McCain’s erratic campaign is likely the product of surrendering his honor to hire those soldiers who vanquished his ambitions in 2000. While it’s said, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, I suspect John McCain’s misjudgment was in believing that th... [Read More]

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