Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Not Really A Stain, It's More Like A Black Hole

John McCain has said before, repeatedly and will say again, that Barak Obama doesn't have what it takes to be president. Not the courage. Not the patriotism. Not the judgement. Not the experience. Not the support of "real" Americans. The only thing he's never claimed, is that he lacks the intelligence. Heh.

McCain's family roots are in the agrarian society of the old South. His father's father's father's father owned a large plantation in Mississippi, worked by scores of African chattel, bred like dogs and worked like mules, to enrich the white land owners. Beaten, chained and starved if they disobeyed. In other parts of the South, if a slave couldn't be broken, they were sold on down the river. In Mississippi, there was no further on down the river. The slaves there broke or they died.

I had a friend in the Navy, from Raleigh, North Carolina. His father told him, "Always remember, we're not from here. You're a Mississippi nigger. You're the toughest, strongest, smartest kind of man ever born. Whatever they do to you, they can never kill you, because if they could've they would've."

My friend said it proud and believed every word.

McCain says he never knew about his families past. It's a lie. The plantation was owned by his relatives until 1958, slaves replaced by only marginally better off sharecroppers. He visited, if not frequently, enough to understand.

After the Civil War, the Men of the McCain family found employment as Naval officers. If they lacked a certain degree of intelligence, they made up for it in resolution, determination and an understanding of the effectiveness of iron hard discipline, which they no doubt exercised on the poor wretches before the mast with the same cruel zeal that they had previously meted out to their human property in the fields of the Delta. It is not surprising that the McCain men rose to the highest echelon of the officer corps of the United States Navy.

Like his forebears, John McCain grew up small, mean and not burdened by any excess of intelligence or sensitivity. Unlike them, he had nothing but contempt for authority and idolized the punk hero movie stars of his youth, first Marlon Brando, then James Dean. He identified with the overt stubborn rebelliousness of the characters they portrayed. The quest for human contact and redemption in subtext, was simply beyond his ken. He was contemptuous of all organized social settings. School was no exception. He started out poorly and did not improve with time. There was no favorite subject to ignite the flame of learning and scholarship in his runty little breast. He did find a passion in life and early, carousal. While he engaged in the drinking that was part of the ritual, that wasn't the main attraction. It was the opportunity to travel about the countryside, sneering, taunting and intimidating those he met, that rang his bell. It was an opportunity to demonstrate to his companions of the moment, how he could make up for a lack of intelligence and manners with brutish pugnacity.

This behavior continued all through his youth right up to his graduation from Annapolis, where he had been admitted as an unwanted but unavoidable legacy and graduated at the very bottom of his class. There is no doubt he would have been tossed out or even sent to the fleet as an unrated sailor, if it hadn't been for his lineage.

Much has been made of John McCain's Naval career. There isn't really much to it. He was a bad pilot. The only auspicious act he ever engaged in was to be shot down, severely injured, while crashing his plane into a lake in Hanoi and not managing to die. The entire legend of the man revolves around his experiences for six years as a prisoner of war and his decision not to accept repatriation early, when offered, due to his fathers high rank. You have to give credit where it is due. That was the one honorable act of his entire life.

Upon his return to freedom, he resumed his old ways. The Navy promoted him as if he had advanced normally during the six years of his captivity, something that almost certainly would not have happened otherwise. They gave him one last bump in grade after that and showed him the door. He spurned his wife and family, then married the daughter of a wealthy benefactor. He has lived apart from his second wife for all of the quarter century of their marriage. She wisely keeps the purse strings and thus the balance of power, closely held in her own hands.

John McCain found success in Congress. He has gained power and respect without having to show either accomplishment or accountability. He has managed this by always being available and amenable to the wealthy and influential that need a voice and a vote under the Capital dome. He has had mentors, allies and patrons in plenty, during his life. If he has had even one real friend and confidant, I have yet to hear of them.

This is John McCain. The man who would be President of the United States of America.

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

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