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McCain-Palin: The Republican Affirmative Action Program

September 3, 2008

a thought-provoking and compelling commentary for excellence by TNTalk! writer, Leon Walker

The deserving should never be penalized for succeeding in their endeavors. Neither should those who fail in their endeavors be expectant of recognition or advantage. For many, this reality remains the bitter pill that was at the core of the affirmative action debate. It is this debate versus any measure of morality or the impacts of political manipulations that stains the McCain-Palin Republican Presidential ticket. Senator John McCain may best be remembered in history as the father of the Republican Affirmative Action Program.

If Governor Sarah Palin had demonstrated that she is “among” the best and the brightest this nation has to offer, if she were “among” the most accomplished female politicians in America and if she was the most deserving of this historic selection I would stand and applaud. Or even if she was not the most accomplished or qualified, but was personally and intellectually the essence of a stellar role model, I would stand and applaud. I sense something bizarre about this selection, comparable to when Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich ran for President. The spectacle is something pathetic and yet entertaining. Governor Palin’s selection is not exactly “Jerry Springer comes to Washington” but it’s close.

It is clear that the American “myths of morality and excellence” have been exposed for what they are in this Presidential campaign season. The examples that we now hold up as role models are no longer intended to include only the best and the brightest or those of most resilient character. Surely I have made many mistakes in my life. In my view, any effort to make sweeping judgments about anyone are pointless. Like me, most of us have stumbled at some point along the path of life. But if you believe that there truly exists something that resembles knowing right from wrong or what is deserved versus that which is not, then you may find yourself struggling with the affirmative action dilemma of Republican politics. You may find that you are really grasping for what you “want” and strengthening the now transparent American Myths of Morality and Excellence and growing comfortable with compromised traditional ideals. It begins at the top, and at the lowest and most troubling levels of our society. The undeserving often live in reckless moral wastelands. They are reflective examples of a now hollow American ideal. An ideal that says hard work, excellence and achievement may yield that which is deserved. So many among us are the manifestations of the selfishness and irresponsibility that this Republican ticket has presented. This challenged nation and the world are guests at the premier unveiling of the “McCain Mediocrity Model”.

It may well be that even the most simplistic, even humorous reminders of character have always a myth politically. The old “I cannot tell a lie, I cut down the cherry tree” brand of honesty coupled with a truly selfless commitment to achievement and service is beyond any American politician today. Perhaps the ideal, in terms of perfection is unreasonable. And should you accept that logic, it follows that there must certainly be a somewhat lower, yet acceptable standard that we might aspire to. However, if the truth of the matter is that even the least accomplished and undistinguished may be welcomed as our leaders and role models… let us acknowledge this and proceed with impunity.

There is the old adage: “People will talk.” Few would argue that Americans love to talk and are entertained by examining the lives of those close to us personally, socially as well as our entertainment and public figures. Few would argue that we often find it troubling when these figures say and do things that tarnish their images or violate the traditional model of the high social standards. Perhaps I am only now beginning to realize that the traditional model of high social standards no longer exists. Perhaps it never actually did. Perhaps the lie of high standards never existed in the lives of ordinary people, entertainers, sports figures and sadly, of those that would be President or Vice President of the United States of America. Although people will talk without significant reason, at times the simple appearance of impropriety yields negative scrutiny.

Senator McCain has again lowered the bar. His personal and political life has been littered with examples of irresponsibility and poor judgment that are the cornerstone of our now crippled social ideology. In spite of this, he is being held up as that which Americans and those around the world should look to as an example of moral, political and global diplomatic leadership. I do not judge the man nor any man. But I would not welcome his friendship and I do not acknowledge or embrace his leadership example.

Senator McCain throughout his life, like many an ordinary man, has been an academic and moral failure. He was an undistinguished student in high school and he admittedly made a mockery of his opportunity to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. This string of events followed an appointment engineered through the influence wielded by his father and grandfather. An appointment which he did not deserve deprived an appointment to someone more deserving. He partied during Naval Flight Training after being assigned to fly tactical jets. This was another opportunity John McCain did not deserve, again taking some deserving individuals spot. His record of airmanship was reflective of this. He betrayed and abandoned his first wife while she was recovering from serious injury and after she stood by him during his time in captivity. He married a wealthy woman whose family money and influence yielded his seat in the U. S. Senate, another opportunity he did not earn or deserve. Then he forever tarnished his Senatorial legacy by “very nearly” being convicted in the infamous “Keating Five” scandal that would have sent him to prison. This is a man who is being held up as a hero following his tragic stint in a POW camp even though he was coerced into signing an anti-American statement by his captors. Many of his fellow prisoners flew more missions and spent far more time in captivity and yet did not succumb. Throughout his life he has been the beneficiary of that which is not deserved while often trivializing these opportunities through dishonorable and irresponsible choices.

Why is Governor Sarah Palin the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States? Why was a laundry list of distinguished, proven, accomplished and more deserving potential candidates publicly rejected and possibly embarrassed? Palin was the poorly conceived choice of one who lacks the appropriate level of respect and appreciation that is earned through hard work and proud achievement. This selection was a snap judgment by an ill tempered and desperate man who has been conditioned by entitlement. Senator McCain is the quintessential “Affirmative Action Man”. He has been unappreciably accepting that which is not deserved at the expense of others for most of his life. Like a beacon shining on the night sky his choice in running mates has illuminated his blind ambition and willingness to stretch the limits of mediocrity to new moral, intellectual lows in American executive politics. The McCain conceived “Republican Affirmative Action Program” is the basis for a reinvented national and world example of an American ideal at a new macro-low. There is nothing that either Senator McCain or Governor Palin can hold up as an American or world example of flawless excellence.  This selection should be the last of a long line of recent McCain errors in judgment that are as reckless as they are unimaginative.

While ordinary Americans are not without our faults, it would and should be expected that the leaders of this magnitude should have something -anything- that they could hold up as an unquestionable example of special significance that sets them apart. This special something would signal an ability to inspire this nation and the world to nod in approval without any measure of doubt.

Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama is leader, an intellectual and an academic scholar. His wife shares the same qualities. He is a constitutional lawyer who has excelled at some of the finest institutions of higher learning in the land. He is one of the finest legal and political minds in America. He has rocketed across the political landscape due to hard work, leadership and a strong image of confidence coupled with a welcome message of real change. No matter what else you might think about a self proclaimed “imperfect messenger” there is no doubting or arguing the facts.

I wonder if anyone still exists in America that recalls the meaning of the term “the best and the brightest”.  I wonder how those words could ever conjure up the image of John McCain or Sarah Palin.

In more ways than one, John McCain is a “little man.” Unhappily for John McCain, the Presidency of the United States is not a limbo contest.

L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker

One Comment leave one →
  1. walker kate permalink
    September 3, 2008 6:58 pm

    I LIKE! Brilliant thinking Leon.

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