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John McCain: Be Careful What You Ask For

July 22, 2008

Leon Walker is a TNTalk! writer. To find out more about Leon, check out our writers page.

In recent months Senator John McCain has repeatedly called for Senator Barack Obama to make a trip to Iraq to meet with our troops and generals as well as diplomats and heads of state. Mr. McCain and his campaign strategists worked with pointed zeal to create a vision of a novice politician in Senator Obama. A rookie who needed schooling and seasoning in international diplomacy and one who misunderstood the situation in Iraq and the desires of that nation’s leadership. Senator McCain even went so far as to offer to lead Obama around on this foreign visit in an effort to ensure his proper diplomatic education.

Senator Obama, now in the midst of a multi stop international junket has concluded visits to Afghanistan and Iraq and already the international media frenzy surrounding his visits has reached a fever pitch. The worst political nightmare that could have been imagined for the McCain campaign is unfolding before the world. There have been no gaffs or political missteps and Senator Obama is enjoying enthusiastic welcoming at every stop. That’s the bad news (if you will excuse my sarcasm). The good news for the Obama campaign and for the United States is that there is a very clear message emanating from the world that is unlike anything ever seen. The world media in expressing the voices and opinions of citizens from countries around the planet is reporting an excitement about the prospect of Senator Obama becoming America’s next president that is both electric and historic. As this global event continues to unfold I have been stricken by the reaction in the media here at home. Our national media although seemingly unhappy with the access they are being granted are riveted to every shred of Obama news and the reviews and assessments have been consistently stellar.

Senator McCain busies himself scrambling for media visibility and the business running a campaign that is seemingly a shambles. Seldom does a week go by when he does not further embarrass himself with a statement that highlights either his cognitive shortcomings or his lack of education on matters of significant national or international interest. His recent mistake regarding the borders between Iraq and Pakistan were only one more of many shockingly embarrassing if not telling errors. There is also the matter of a recent campaign ad in which he blames Senator Obama for the current high gas prices. A claim so ridiculous that some in the media and the public are finding it sadly humorous. Even the only marginally significant (such as his lack of internet prowess) are news highlights that contribute to his growing image as a doddering senior rather than a strong and confident and competent leader. Then last week Senator McCain’s close friend and former chief economic strategist (Phil Gramm) mocked hardworking Americans and subsequently faded to black in last weeks most noteworthy McCain campaign news fiasco. And now, the Iraqi government has made comments effectively agreeing with Senator Obama’s stated troop withdrawal plans, taking McCain’s primary platform issue (winning the war in Iraq) all but off of the table. In short, the wheels appear to be coming off the McCain “Straight Talk Express.

One of the primary reasons that President Bush enjoys such a horrible popularity and effectiveness rating among Americans (and yes) the rest of the world is his image of being crass, stubborn and unsophisticated. He appears as the classic narrow minded Ugly American. In short the image of the President of the United States has been wrecked beyond anything imaginable. As far as policies are concerned I would argue that you could put a shirt and tie on a baboon and seat it behind the desk in the oval office and the animal could do no worse than what we have endured under our current President. So here we sit observing Senator McCain as he self destructs and humiliates himself on the national and world stage. I shudder to think what multitude of further bungling statements will spring forth prior to November’s election. His doddering and unpolished presence is only half of the problem. In terms of policies, Senator McCain has handcuffed himself to the baboon (if your follow my sarcastic logic) by for years, aligning himself with the policies of a historically inept and unpopular president. So is there any wonder that so many Americans and citizens from countries around the world are being swept up in the “the movement” the exciting prospect of Senator Obama being the new image of American cooperation and leadership? There could be no more positively and universally stark polar opposite. And everyone in the world sees it.

In American politics we have choices and we have the power to shape our future. Just one more magnificent benefit of our citizenship. I cling to this power and I intensely value my well considered vote. But there is an old saying: “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are”. With this in mind, I completely understand that a wealthy individual might choose to be a Republican and vote for Senator McCain. I also understand that some are intensely patriotic and are drawn by emotion a call to arms without question or pause. But I also know that things are going badly in America. There can be no denying that. On nearly every issue of substance there is much work to be done. Our citizens are suffering at home and dying abroad and the image of our leadership and our nation has fallen into an abysmal state. If ever there was a time for all Americans to take stock of things politically, both at home and abroad it would be now. Be careful what you ask for America, because there is plenty more of the same to be had.

So the elder Senator from Arizona wanted to give the young upstart from Illinois some advice about getting foreign policy experience. Well Senator Obama is doing just that. And as America and so many around the world watch this interesting, fascinating and history making event there is a collective hope among many, that soon, things may change for the better. And that the glowing image of American leadership will be restored and the model of American strength and goodness will be revived. I imagine Senator McCain is watching too. After all we have been hearing his song for the past seven years. So what else has he got to do?

Senator McCain asked for it, and once again he got it wrong. Young Mr. Obama has packed up his “movement” and he’s taking it on the road.

L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker

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