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 words...so 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 handlers...an ideology that has blind intransigence at its core and believes the end justifies the means...an 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 mindset...as 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 exposed...as 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 identity...one 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.