Thursday, November 06, 2008


I’ll have to write about Barack Obama’s election victory and the individual aspects of its significance in subsequent posts. I am currently too staggered by the fact that a world that I was born into, a world that I cynically thought was eternally immutable has simply vanished. It has disappeared in what seems like the flick of a switch. A world of particular limits and specific hypocrisies has ended, but somehow the lights have stayed on. A new world has emerged, with some of the old world’s prejudices and injustices still firmly in place, -but a new world nonetheless. No one can deny this.

The 21st Century began eight years later than scheduled for Americans, on Tuesday night November 4th 2008. I watched it happen with two of my closest friends. How wonderful for each and every single one of us, everywhere across the world, whether we allow ourselves to realize it yet or not.

A Black man is president of the United States.

You’ll forgive me if I say it, write it, and shout it several times like some poor soul afflicted with Tourette Syndrome. I just can’t help it.

I want to write briefly today about the opposition’s candidate, and why I think he lost. I think there is an important lesson in John McCain’s defeat, a lesson not easily seen at the moment because of the glare of Barack Obama’s history-making victory.

John McCain is one of the most dynamic, capable and fascinating politicians to battle on the American political stage in history. He has an ability to surmount political adversity that verges on indestructibility. But sadly we all know too well that he is not indestructible. His Viet Cong captors broke his body and his mind after years in the worst kind of incarceration imaginable. No human being should have been able to come back from that. I always found it so peculiar that he opposed the Martin Luther King holiday so vehemently, when he knew for seven long years, the indignity, excruciating pain, and constant fear of death that only a slave can know… and there in lies the first indication of smallness in an otherwise great man. Call it a fracturing of his decency, or an inability to relate: a flaw of illogic and discompassion in his character. At times, this is a man who cannot see when some things are the same, at others he apparently loses the ability to distinguish.

In hindsight, John McCain lost this election four years ago. He lost when he threw in with one of the most self serving and criminal administrations in our history. He did it just to get their blessing and play with their friends. In 2004, he started to act like one of them and talk like one of them, even though his ethics, his values couldn’t have been further apart from their venal motivations and unscrupulous disregard for the country. He reversed himself on every individual position of importance that distinguished him as a vigilant representative of the American people. He reversed himself on tax policy, even torture. He engaged in the same kinds of smear tactics that were used against him by Karl Rove, and tried to take it even further. He embraced the religious right, and befriended demagogues he had only a few years before called the “agents of intolerance”. He even relinquished his aggressive criticism of the Iraq war, opting to look on the bright side of every new disaster, speaking to Americans as if the war had started years later than it had.

John McCain didn’t lose this election because he was unpopular: he wasn't.
He didn’t lose this election because he looked old: nobody cared.
He didn’t lose this election because he was perceived to be incompetent by the American people: the American people believed in him.

John McCain lost because he was wrong.

How and why John McCain "became wrong"; his underlying calculations and motivations for his reversals in policy, the recent violations of his own lifelong held beliefs, values and platforms in just four short years will be a matter for historians to explore.
For my part, I'm glad I can just leave it here and move on.


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