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October 1, 2008

Two Faces

Tom McLaughlin

I was really surprised how much Sen. John McCain reminded me of Dad. I watched him in the first debate and his mannerisms, coupled with his speech patterns, had Dad written all over him.


I had to shake my head a couple of times. I don’t know whether it was his age, his military background or his conservative values that brought back the memories. Or all three. Dad was a career officer and passed at 92 about a year ago. To me, Senator McCain looked and sounded old, very old.


Contrast this with Senator Barack Obama. Young, vigorous and willing to learn. He didn’t have the foreign policy experience of Senator McCain, but the debate showed he had a good command of world affairs.


Senator Obama could not compete with Senator McCain about the places Senator McCain had walked, the people he had met, or the military experience he had acquired.


What Senator Obama did display was that the learning curve would be very short. He demonstrated he had the vigor to walk through Afghanistan, or Iraq, or wherever. I was very confident of that.


Senator Obama’s plan to deploy troops to Afghanistan is wrong. History shows it doesn’t work. The English were forced to leave, while the Russians were thrown out.


We should pack up and go home. The people of Iraq will never get it together, what with three different groups all fighting each other. The same is true of Afghanistan. One cannot count the number of tribes who have been fighting each other there since time began.


The border with Pakistan is an artificial line drawn by the British in 1948. It means nothing to those living there. They live by a different fluid line which changes as one group holds dominion over another. To blame Pakistan for not securing its border is ludicrous. That area of Pakistan is composed of rugged mountains and steep valleys with an imaginary line running up, over and through a terrain suitable only for mountain goats.


Senator McCain kept saying that we must win the hearts and minds of the people of both Iraq and Afghanistan. America tried that strategy in Vietnam. It didn’t succeed.


The debate began with the questions about the economy. Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama had no clue about whether the bailout would work. To be fair, no one else does either. But both were very positive that it would. What choice do any of us have?


Senator McCain kept bringing up ghosts from the past. He invoked the conservative god, President Ronald Reagan. That was the past and this is now. He kept reciting the Republican mantra of tax cuts to businesses with the failed idea of the trickle down effect. That is how we got here in the first place. He probably has Ayn Rand’s books memorized.


The one thing the debate did accomplish was a direct comparison of the two candidates. One saw a young and vigorous person pitted against a tired old man whose time has passed him by.


Another great thing about this first debate, many people saw Senator Obama, not as a black man who happened to be a presidential candidate, but as a presidential candidate. They totally forgot about race as he spoke. This is a major accomplishment. They realize his values are our values and will elect him as the next president of the United States.


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