After enduring the obligatory task of suffering through The 2008 Republican Snake Oil Festival, I've come away with a virtual case of whiplash from having vacillated between somnambulistic boredom and slack-jawed disbelief. It is absolutely amazing how effortlessly the Republican Party can take a routine fact, mold it into the most ridiculous lie ever told, and then present that lie with the quivering lip of an apostle. But that's the Republican key to success. They can tell the most blatant lie as though their convoluted version of the truth came directly from the lips of God.
The American people tend to accept these lies because they've been so finely tuned, carefully crafted, and presented by such masters, that by the end of these fairytales the American people have been drenched in false patriotism and tethered to a childlike view of the world that's so remote from even the most tenuous connection with reality, that there's nothing left of reality for them to hold on to. As a result, they're left drifting in a world so surreal and disorienting that they're willing to grab a hold of anything that even resembles reality. But what ultimately seals the deal is the American people's innate belief in the basic honesty of their leaders. Americans simply cannot bring themselves to believe that anyone can possibly look them in the eye and then tell a blatant lie.
But unfortunately, most Republicans can do just that. Lying is a skill that all Republican politicians have to master early in their career. The Republican Party has become so far removed from what's in the best interest of the American people, it can only survive through corruption, manipulation, and deceit. Thus, the ability to craft a finely tuned lie is, literally, the most valuable coin of the Republican realm.
The party is a coalition of three groups of people–the rich corporate interests, whose only concern is to service their own greed; the angry, social chauvinists, who have convinced themselves that God hates anyone who doesn't look, act, and think like themselves; and finally, the unthinking disaffected, who have been manipulated into embracing the misguided agenda of the first two groups.
These people tend to preach a passionate sermon, but unfortunately, they fail to live up to their own gospel. While they claim to be anointed by God himself, their most strident message appeals to greed, hatred, and a lack of compassion for others. They embrace an agenda that propagates the murder of Iraqis, the proposed murder of Iranians, the exclusion of gays as equal members of society, depriving needy Americans of universal healthcare, the destruction of our social security system, depriving vets of needed healthcare and a decent life after they've left the military, and the aggressive subsidizing of the wealthy, while passing along the bill to the next generation. Then they look us square in the eye, and tell us that this is God's will.
A perfect example of Republican deception at work can be seen in the way that John McCain wraps himself in the American flag every chance he gets. He's depending on our being so appreciative of his suffering during his time in Vietnam, that we'll refrain from truly examining who he really is. Well, I do appreciate his service, but at the same time, I also recognize that millions of other Americans have also suffered from the pain of war, and the best way we can repay them for their suffering is to elect the most competent leaders we can find to lead, protect and defend this nation that they suffered so greatly to preserve–and, military service notwithstanding, John McCain has neither the character, competence, nor demeanor to fulfill that role.
If you take a really close look at McCain's life, it contradicts everything he tends to embrace.
Not one aspect of his life reflects the American tradition of fair play, where everyone is given an equal opportunity to excel based on their personal merit. McCain's entire life has been based upon taking advantage of an affirmative action program for the privileged. His grades in school were so bad that he wouldn't have even been able to get into college, much less Annapolis, if it wasn't for his family. He was only allowed to get into Annapolis as a result of having a father and grandfather who were both admirals in the navy–and even then, he only managed to graduate 894th out of a class of 899. He was fifth from the very bottom of his class, and we're considering placing the future of this nation in his hands? Haven't we learned a thing from the past eight years about electing incompetent "daddy's boys" to lead this nation?
And maybe it's just me, but I've always thought of heroes as the strong silent type–you know, "High Noon," Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott. This nation has thousands of such heroes, but they rarely reveal themselves. They only surface on Veteran's and Memorial Day, as they slowly limp past, proudly sporting their American Legion caps over thinning gray hair. These men tend to play down their heroism. They're content to pull out their medals once or twice a year and quietly relive a time in their lives when they were young, strong, and virile, and the only applause they require for their exploits is the burning pride they see in the eyes of their aging sweetheart and loving families as they march past.
But that's not McCain. He's a "hero" of a different sort, and he's ridden that horse for all it's worth–I'm surprised he doesn't wear his Silver Star as a lapel pin.
Wikipedia related a report from the Phoenix Gazette that indicated during John McCain's run for Arizona's 1st Congressional District, he was labeled a carpetbagger. In response to one of his critics McCain seized upon a theme that would be regurgitated ad nauseam throughout his career:
He said, "Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi"
While I understand that my response to Sen. McCain may be far less than politically correct, it seems to me that after forty years of thank-you's, free passes on political corruption, and being given the opportunity to build a career on his experience in Vietnam, enough is enough already.
So I'm sure you'll excuse me, Sen. McCain, if after thanking you, yet again, for your brave sacrifice, if I step over in the corner and throw all the way up, just this once–my friend.
Eric L. Wattree