Word to Word with John McCain
John McCain is running as the War Candidate, presenting himself as the the effective warrior who will bring victory to America. I, for one, am pleased to see McCain finally being all he can be. As a constituent, I look forward to a steady dialogue with my senator on this important topic. The first installment previously appeared in this space. So will future installments.
McCain's embrace of war is his attempt to call America to her destiny, to be Winston Churchill standing resolute against imminent danger. But if he will send our sons and daughters to war, then he must also tell us what their deaths will achieve that other solutions will not. MeCain claims that more agression, more troops and more resolve will prevent catastrophe. He says this after four years of catastrophe that ranks among the greatest strategic blunder in American history and the greatest failure presidential leadership since Buchanan. I do not think any political arrangements brokered by American forces and their Green Zone Iraqi allies will last much beyond our departure. The Iraqis live there, they can afford to wait us out. So John McCain needs to be describing his end game for Iraq as he calls the nation to this task. I think his fear of terrorism is far too great and that America has non-military options that can do at least as well as our occupation. I sure plan to press these and other questions to him.
This debate seems to be my destiny, an opportunity to serve my country in a meaningful way. In that respect, debating John McCain on the goals and purposes of American foreign policy may be a step in my journey to and from Vietnam. I went to Vietnam because my country asked me to and I was afraid to say no. I wanted to have a voice in my country and feared refusing service would limit my voice. So I went and passively endured the loss of my humanity. Having lost my innocence for that reason, I redeem my honor by speaking out as a veteran against war and mindless militarism. I have done so in various ways over the years, starting with a Veterans for McGovern bumpersticker and my LTE of the Richmond Times-Dispatch protesting William Westmoreland's "stabbed in the back speech" at the dedication of the memorial to Virginia's Vietnam War dead. Debating John McCain will be nothing new. I am pleased that fate has brought me to McCain as a constituent at this time. If the truth be known, though, I'd rather have a senator that does not so reflexively support war and aggression as the deciding factor in America's future. But circumstances brought McCain and me together in Arizona. So be it.
My education, including Vietnam, and professional experience have taught me many things. One of the most important is to use scarce resources wisely for the common good, an ideal embodied in the Preamble to the US Constitution. I have followed public affairs actively since the mid 1960's. I was trained to identify and measure results of public sector efforts. I believe I am as well qualified as John McCain to determine my country's future. (Okay, I don't get the on-site briefings in Iraq that McCain is privy to but he doesn't seem to use that information very well so I don't think that gives him an advantage.)
When I cast a cold eye on the American occupation of Iraq, it becomes simply an effort on behalf of the nation, on my behalf and my neighbors'. Unlike building a highway or operating a library, this effort demands our lives and national honor--our soul--along with money. It's a high price to pay. My cold eye demands a return equal to the sacrifice and I see none. Perhaps I am obtuse and resistant. After all, I never thought invading Iraq was a good idea. That's not the issue now. The issue now is the way forward and certainly an unsustainable, objectionable occupation will not take anyone forward in Iraq. I want John McCain to tell me why, what good it is doing our nation? I bet this nation can achieve greater (not absolute but arguably better)security sooner by ending the occupation. I don't think John McCain can convince me otherwise. I am listening. I will also ask questions. I'm good at that.
It will be fun.
The article about McCain has some interesting quotes, few of which give me any confidence in his judgment.
"Iraq is the most important issue facing the country," said Brian Jones, McCain's communications director. "John McCain is going to continue to talk about how we achieve victory in Iraq."
Iraq is important but THE most important? Umm, I think sustaining life, prosperity and economic justice in a changing world is more important. I think that helping America remain competitive in a global economy. Iraq has oil. Sure we need oil but didn't Republicans used to talk about markets? Isn't oil and resource allocation a market issue? What's with the armies and blowing shit up? I don't believe that is a particularly efficient market mechanism. And most of the violence and mayhem in Iraq is home grown. What terrorist threats that are likely to result from the Iraq civil war should be within the capability of a powerful First World nation, especially if we work with other nations of the world.
"Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future."
Not a quality I normally look for in a candidate. But at least he's telling the truth. We here in Arizona know that his military judgment questionable ever since he became close personal friends with fellow fighter pilot and flying ace, Duke Tully, publisher of the Arizona Republic,godfather for a McCain child, who turned out to have acquired all of his military background at surplus stores. McCain just cannot see past lies. No wonder he misspeaks.
"This is about moving forward and doing what's necessary to make John McCain president," said Terry Nelson, his campaign manager. "We want to talk broadly about the challenges this country faces. That has not been done in a systematic way by any candidate, so far."
It's always been about making something of John McCain, war hero, congressman, senator and now president. If McCain, who has supported this war from the beginning hasn't systematically explained the why this war makes sense for America, I don't think he's likely to make a good case after for years of failure.
And finally, what is the etiquette for publishing correspondence with a public offical. I consider that correspondence to be public record. Do I need to inform him that his words, or lack thereof, will appear on this blog? I am open to advice. I most certainly want to do right by everyone in this matter.