Things keep getting lost in translation. Words seems to have lost their meaning although their very misuse often provides a more insightful understanding of our leaders than all their speechifying could possibly convey – – a fact made obvious as the McCain and Clinton campaigns have progressed.
Senator McCain stands on his record and everyone refers to him as a national hero, but although his military service is admirable and his endurance as a POW entitles him to respect and admiration they don’t necessarily make him a “hero” per se, neither are they qualifications for the presidency. Being a member of what could be called the ‘warrior’ class isn’t like directing military operations or commanding troops in the field either.
In the Senate and as he campaigns McCain has been politically correct in that he makes political choices according to how best to pave his way in Congress and eventually towards the White House. If we were still in the time with which he is most familiar, a place where bios and incidents could be kept under wraps, McCain’s preachers, his policy gaffes and the gaping holes in his knowledge of other cultures would be buried so deep they would never see the light of day. But that is not today’s world.
So at the risk of appearing either not to care or being just negligent and disengaged, the preacher and lobbyist liabilities were allowed to fester for months. When they could no longer be ignored after the airing of videos and pressure from the print media, McCain was forced to repudiate them and explain that their odd philosophies had just come to light – – the disengaged option. Never passing up an opportunity, however, to take a shot at Obama he added that neither preacher was his moral advisor nor had he sat in either of their churches for twenty years. As for the lobbyists there has been much scurrying to cleanse the campaign of its more egregious influence peddlers.
But courting his two evangelical bright lights to curry favor with the religious right was an act of moral intransigence by McCain because it carried with it nothing more than a political assessment, not religious commitment. Obama’s membership in The Unity Church was a religious affiliation and included service to the surrounding community in Chicago as well. As the news broke that McCain had severed his relationship with the Preachers Hagee and Parsley, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council opined that it will be hard for him to enlist evangelical pastors in the future because of the intense scrutiny they would have to endure – – nothing like scrutiny to scare off fringe potentates.
And in what often passes for legitimate political commentary these days Michele Malkin describes Barack Obama in a recent op-ed as a “gaffe machine”, for saying, she writes, that Iran was not a threat to the U.S. What he actually said was that we must talk to enemies as well as friends, citing that during the cold war, with nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union trained on this country we still conversed with Soviet leaders. Why should we be unwilling now to engage with a far less advanced military threat like Iran – – not that Iran was no threat but that it was a different and far less-advanced one.
But the most distressing gaffe, if it can be reduced to a word, was Senator Clinton’s explanation that one reason for continuing her primary race was that ‘anything can happen’ before the final selection of a candidate. Remember, she said, my husband didn’t lock down his candidacy until June and that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated on his way to becoming the Democratic Presidential candidate.
Indeed anything can happen. And it isn’t really that anyone believes Hillary wishes Kennedy’s fate to be visited upon Obama but rather that her musings are an indication of her egocentric approach to the world. Self-involved and driven by ambition her sense of entitlement led her to verbalize that inner sense of self importance. And in the uproar that followed she issued one of those non-apology apologies about not meaning to “offend”, so typical of politicians who just can’t bring themselves to admit they said something totally inappropriate, insulting, insensitive and mean-spirited.
These folks often try to suggest we have misunderstood their original intent. The truth is that we have simply cut through their rhetorical triangulations and begun to understand who they really are.